When I first arrived in Ithaca three years ago, I found myself taken aback by the general aura of Cornell. Everything seemed to exude excellence. The research, the students, even the buildings exceeded my expectations. Despite the repeated assurances of those around me, I could not shake the idea that, to exist in a place like Cornell, I too needed to be excellent. I spent most of my first semester in a state of constant worry that I could not meet this standard, and I struggled to integrate myself into the Cornell community.
A motto that is printed on memorabilia, engrained in our minds since orientation, and at the tail end of University statements. A concept upon which our institution is founded. The end of spring semester is a time for us to reflect on another year at Cornell, and a time for our graduating peers to reflect on the totality of their Cornell experience. I have found myself incessantly asking my graduating friends, “so did you enjoy your Cornell experience?” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the responses vary. Ranging from wide smiles to grimaces, they exemplify the notion that there is no singular Cornell experience.
Aziz Ansari, this week’s SNL host, expressed an important sentiment during his opening bit. “Change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people,” he noted in reference to the millions of people around the world that came together for the Women’s March. Ithaca played its role in this national phenomenon as thousands of students, professors and Ithacans came together for the Women’s March in Ithaca. Like many of you, our social media feeds were filled with pictures and messages displaying throngs of Americans coming together and using their voices to fight for equality.
This past Friday, students, faculty members and administrators united on Ho Plaza to commemorate the tragic deaths of Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott and other black men, women and children who lost their lives at the hands of white police officers. What was for many a weekend of homecoming celebrations, was for others a time to grieve and reflect upon racial injustices in America. Despite the success of the protest, the backlash that resulted revealed divisions among our community when it comes to race perspectives. An event that should have enhanced community members’ understandings of their peers’ sentiments instead highlighted a problematic interpretation of the Black Lives Matter movement. “The BLM crowd is worthless.
It’s the beginning of a new school year, and there is much to be celebrated. From launching the College of Business to welcoming a whole slew of top-level administrators, Ithaca is teeming with new and exciting changes. This year, we welcome Cornellians in the class of 2020, and trust that they will continue to pioneer the innovative and progressive energy that infiltrates Cornell. Like the class of 2020, this year marks a welcoming change for me too. This year, I begin my journey as the graduate student-elected trustee.
“Getting on the ballot is a great success,” Monger said. “That in itself is a big statement by Cornell alumni. But there is still the big challenge ahead of getting the word out to the Cornell Alumni that it is important for them to take the time to vote when they receive their ballot.”
If Copman and Rowland receive 400 alumni signatures on each of their respective petitions by August 1, they will appear on a March 2017 ballot for the two alumni-at-large positions on the Board of Trustees.
A new Graduate/Professional Student Trustee will be elected this spring by the entire student body (both undergraduate and graduate/professional students). If you are interested in running to be the Graduate/Professional Student Trustee, I encourage you to visit assembly.cornell.edu to learn more about qualifications, the role’s responsibilities, and the campaign process. I also encourage you to attend one of two information sessions this week:
Tuesday, March 15, 12-1 p.m. in 163 Day Hall
Wednesday, March 16, 4:30-5:30 p.m. in 316 Day Hall
If you are not interested in running, I encourage you as the campaign gets underway to learn about the candidates and to vote for whom you believe will be the best student representative on the Cornell University Board of Trustees. Cornell is unique among its peers for electing two students as full voting members of its Board of Trustees. An undergraduate student trustee is elected in odd years, and a graduate/professional student trustee is elected in even years. Student trustees at Cornell attend and vote in full Board meetings but also have a variety of other responsibilities, which include: attending and voting in designated committee meetings; presenting to the Student Life Committee; organizing events to facilitate interaction between trustees and students; serving on various University councils and task forces. Student trustees have the opportunity to meet regularly with administrators on campus issues they feel are important and to collaborate with the shared governance bodies to help ensure effective representation of the student voice in the functioning of the University.