Cornell

Cornell University: Private or Public?

April 4, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus, Campus Life

"As a New Yorker, a student has the ability to receive reduced tuition (roughly $15,000 cheaper) if he is accepted into, and chooses to enroll in, one of the land grant colleges. Some of these colleges include, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Human Ecology."

“As a New Yorker, a student has the ability to receive reduced tuition (roughly $15,000 cheaper) if he is accepted into, and chooses to enroll in, one of the land grant colleges. Some of these colleges include, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Human Ecology.”

Cornell University is a peculiar university in that it is considered a private university, yet happens to be comprised of seven undergraduate colleges, some of which are land grant/state funded colleges. Some will argue that those colleges are SUNY institutions, some will argue that those colleges are public, and some will argue that Cornell is just plain weird. I’ll raise my glass to the latter argument.

As a New Yorker, a student has the ability to receive reduced tuition (roughly $15,000 cheaper) if he is accepted into, and chooses to enroll in, one of the land grant colleges. Some of these colleges include, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Human Ecology.

For future Cornellians, there are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you’re planning on pursuing a certain career or research route:

  • Biology students have three options: The biology major is present in three of the seven undergraduate colleges—the College of Human Ecology, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The three majors are essentially the same, with students enrolled following the same curriculum, taking the same classes and labs, doing research with the same advisors and professors, etc. The only differences include tuition fees for in-state students (New Yorkers) and the college-specific graduation requirements. Unofficially, there is also the specific college’s reputation—some students have an incorrect, stereotypical understanding that the College of Arts and Sciences happens to hold a better reputation than most of the other colleges, and enroll accordingly. Be incredibly cautious about your particular reasons for enrolling into a specific college.
  • Any person, any study…if you are in the right college: Cornell’s condensed motto is “Any person, any study.” Yet, that isn’t necessarily true. As stated before, there are seven undergraduate colleges within Cornell University. Each college has a specific set of majors that a student can declare within that college. If you plan on pursuing a major in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, for example, you should only apply to the College of Arts and Sciences. However, if you are an in-state student and want reduced tuition, I would recommend applying for one of the land grant colleges and simply minoring in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. You can minor in any field within any college. I’ve seen New Yorkers switch into non-land grant colleges simply for the majors offered, and if the price were too much of a burden, I wouldn’t recommend following that line of action.
  • Screw the public school label: As mentioned before, there are elitists who will mock anyone enrolled in the land grant colleges. Such people will state things such as, “You’re not a true Ivy Leaguer,” or, “That’s not a legitimate college within Cornell University.” At the end of the day, such people are simply elitists. Students in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations are brilliant students whose minds work perfectly with the labor relations’ curriculum. Students in the College of Human Ecology are genius researchers who will make amazing discoveries throughout their time in college and post-graduation. Cornell is an Ivy League, regardless of which college you are in. You are a scholar simply because you are here.

A Cornellian’s Go-To Websites

March 28, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

"We live in an age of modernity and technological innovations."

“We live in an age of modernity and technological innovations.”

We live in an age of modernity and technological innovations.

With that being said, college students are on their laptops and smartphones nearly every waking minute—more specifically, during the times when they should be doing work. I, myself, am guilty of being a brainwashed child of the technological revolution. In fact, I will even go so far as to state that my laptop is probably one of my dearest possessions. As such, here is a comprehensive (most definitely not exhaustive) list of websites that I tend to use during my weekdays/schooldays at Cornell:

Cornellsun.com

The Cornell Daily Sun is an independent daily newspaper published in Ithaca by Cornellians. The Sun operates both from a physical newspaper format, as well as the more popular online publication format. The newspaper’s website features daily (Monday-Friday) coverage of the goings-on of the university, including opinion columns and blog pieces submitted by students from all walks of life. As someone who tries to stay “in the know,” the website is my go-to website for all of the 30-minutes breaks I may have in between classes or meetings. It’s usually how I know when there’s a protest going on against yet another terrible institution-wide decision (cough cough HEALTH FEE), or when a concert is coming our way (crossing my fingers for a spectacular Slope Day lineup this coming May).

Tumblr.com

Tumblr is a micro blogging platform and social networking website which allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Most bloggers re-blog or post pictures, photosets, or videos. I, on the other hand, follow a myriad of Feminist, Social Activism, and Political blogs. When I’m not reading a news article on the Cornell Daily Sun’s website—or simply when the Sun does not report on something important—I’m reading about the hard hitting issue(s) on Tumblr. The website gets a bad rep for being a picture version of Twitter and Facebook, combined, but the website is actually an amazing tool for college students to stay connected to the outside world. It’s also a wonderful community of advocates who post thought-provoking articles or think pieces on social issues that affect people from all over the world.

Hulu/Netflix:

Before leaving for college, my mother said, “Remember to focus on your studies. College is expensive and important, and it’s imperative that you stay focused.” Granted, college is about one’s education. However, Cornell—and all schools, really—can become quite toxic, especially if you only focus on your studies. Every now and then, you need a “breather.” Parties are fun and all, but sometimes you need some time off to be by yourself. I like to partake in binge watching entire series or genres of movies. The idea of putting on my PJs, hiding underneath my comfy comforter, and binge watching Modern Family or Dance Moms while eating a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is, literally, the ideal in life. Such websites are also incredibly for your in-between times (in-between classes and meetings, I mean), as well as during study breaks (just make sure to stop at one episode).

Alive Campus:

Kind of like the blog version of College Confidential, Alive Campus is a wonderful avenue in which real students write think pieces and articles about their college experiences. If you’re in need of information about a specific university, or simply want a story about any college in general, AC is a great website to peruse. You get the uncensored, unabridged, unabashed version that college tour guides are told never to tell you about specific colleges.

Cornell’s Best Classes

March 20, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus

Any person...any study.

Any person…any study.

Cornell’s (condensed) main motto is “Any person…any study.” And it’s true. The school, literally, has a class on anything and everything. And if it doesn’t currently, it will. And if you’re impatient, you can design your own class…or your own major. With such a multitude of random courses, here’s my (condensed) list of must-take courses in the school of Arts and Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences—forgive me, but I’ve never taken a class outside of these two schools.

Introduction to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: As an FGSS major, I’m biased in my approach at writing this list—I acknowledge that, but I don’t care. Intro to FGSS is probably one of the best classes you can take in A&S. Why? Because you are immersed in debates, lectures, presentations, group activities, research papers, film, and literature related to the evolving world of feminism. The material that you learn can help you to reshape your current understanding of what constitutes oppression and privilege, inform you on the social issues of days past and present, and gives you the verbiage to tread the waters in a politically correct manner. Just be warned: Everyone is the class identifies as a feminist. Either you remain ignorant, or you inform yourself!

The Cornell Novel: Personally, I love knowing about the history of the things that I’m involved in. As a Cornellian who bleeds big red, and as an English major who one day dreams of publishing his own memoir on the trials and tribulations of a student with too many midterm papers, I absolutely adore this class! We read novels, poems, and everything in between written by Cornell alumni (faculty and students). Imagine taking a class where you can discuss Nabakov’s influence on Pynchon and how Morrison’s Beloved is somehow connected to Joanna Russ’s Sci-Fi, The Female Man. It may be a lot to read, but so worth it when you consider the fact that these same authors were sitting in the very same desks that you are about to fall asleep on.

Desire: Two things—Ellis Hanson and pornography.  Ellis Hanson is probably one of the most theatrical professors on campus. Like the performativity concepts that he teaches, his entire presence in the classroom is nothing more than a performance. From the wine and champagne that he brings to class, to the Princeton gown that he sometimes shows off, to the semi-rehearsed puns and asides that he remarks; he is a living, breathing, performance. The class traces the history of sexuality and human desire, and questions the notion of desire in its abstract form. A little bit of gay pornography and a group viewing of a woman deep throating also adds a bit of raunchy fun to the mix. Highly recommend.

Global Cinema II: Imagine a class where you get to watch two movies during each session! A film class that traces the early avant-garde cinema of the 1920s to the more recent Pixar animation of the 2010’s, Global Cinema II is an incredibly fast paced, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring course. During each class meeting, students get to sit in Schwartz’s Film Forum, where the lights get dimmed and two films of similar themes are played. Shortly before time runs out, students get time to discuss their thoughts on the material, which are later used for papers.

There are, of course, a number of other courses that I’ve taken and loved at Cornell, including Expository Writing: Violent Femmes, Writing and Sexual Politics: Chick Literature, Media Communication, Body As Text: Pleasure and Danger, and Feminist Theory.

Cornell: Oppressive or Progressive?

March 13, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus, Colleges

While speaking to counselors, they all said the same thing, “I think you’re just a little too hotheaded.” I read that as, “I think you’re too opinionated and see the world as it really is—a white heterosexual male dominated system.” They said, “We have plenty of gay people here who don’t get into any trouble at all.” What they meant was, “We have tall, handsome, masculine, white, financially privileged gay men here who have never felt true oppression and therefore, never had anything to complain about.”

While speaking to counselors, they all said the same thing, “I think you’re just a little too hotheaded.” I read that as, “I think you’re too opinionated and see the world as it really is—a white heterosexual male dominated system.” They said, “We have plenty of gay people here who don’t get into any trouble at all.” What they meant was, “We have tall, handsome, masculine, white, financially privileged gay men here who have never felt true oppression and therefore, never had anything to complain about.”

I’m gay. I am a person of color. I am a first generation Ivy Leaguer. I like to paint my nails a sparkly shade of ruby red. I enjoy performing my sexuality in a stereotypically flamboyant and feminine manner. I am outspoken about my radical queer opinions. I am a feminist. I am a queer rights activist.

I am anything and everything that the institution fears.

During my almost two years at Cornell, I’ve slowly grown to be more cynical about the institution to which I feel emotionally enslaved and my parents financially burdened.

  • Thanks to the existence of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major and the LGBT minor, I came in with the expectation that the university allocated a decent amount of funding for the departments. I was wrong.
  • Thanks to the amount of LGBTQ+ resources that were supposedly offered to students of all gender and sexual identities, I came in with the expectation that the university has a wonderful support system for queer students. I had to create that support network.
  • Thanks to the pre-college panels with white-cis gay males/passable queers that kept saying, “Cornell is so open to homosexuality,” I came in with the expectation that Cornell is a university that is open to homosexuality. I should’ve made note of the fact that it was only white-cis gay males/passable queers having good experiences.

This past week, Student Assembly candidates debated on diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives—which could either negatively or neutrally affect the Haven/LGBT community. Rarely do policies positively affect the queers. Let’s be real, the institution is still an institution.

Two of the pertinent questions asked to these candidates were: “What will you do for Haven’s funding?” and “What will you do about the bias reporting system?”

  • Haven is the LGBTQ+ organization on campus. We have ~$50k worth of funding for the growing umbrella organization. We currently have ~15 sub organizations that make up the umbrella organization. UPenn (known as a less-progressive university) offers nearly $200k for its school of roughly the same amount of sub-organizations and student population. Interesting.
  • Last semester, I reported several bias incidents pertaining to homophobia. First, the administration simply scolded my white, heterosexual bullies. Those white, heterosexual bullies then harassed me further. Second, the administration scolded the white, heterosexual bullies a second time. Those white, heterosexual bullies made my life miserable. Finally, I stood up to my white, heterosexual bullies. My white, heterosexual bullies got offended and reported me. I was made to look like the bad guy. I got kicked out of my house of residence and had to move during finals week (when I should’ve been studying). I had to talk to the police. I had to go to counseling right before winter break and all throughout my winter break. I almost killed myself.

While speaking to counselors, they all said the same thing, “I think you’re just a little too hotheaded.” I read that as, “I think you’re too opinionated and see the world as it really is—a white heterosexual male dominated system.” They said, “We have plenty of gay people here who don’t get into any trouble at all.” What they meant was, “We have tall, handsome, masculine, white, financially privileged gay men here who have never felt true oppression and therefore, never had anything to complain about.”

I love Cornell. I love the intellectual community. I love being able to take a class on gender politics in Africa while being a team member on a service-learning trip to queer homeless shelters in NYC. I love the friends that I have. I love the creative writing and queer clubs that I’m a part of. I love my school.

But it needs to fix itself before I can proudly boast that my school is anything but a money-hungry corporation that talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk.

Cornell’s Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major

March 7, 2015 in Academics, Admissions, Alive Campus, Colleges, Reviews

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major: At Cornell, we don’t simply study “Women’s Studies” or “Gender Studies,” but rather, we study FGSS. By this, I mean to say that we study the intersectionality between feminist movement, gender—in its general form—and queer politics as it relates to broader institutions.

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major: At Cornell, we don’t simply study “Women’s Studies” or “Gender Studies,” but rather, we study FGSS. By this, I mean to say that we study the intersectionality between feminist movement, gender—in its general form—and queer politics as it relates to broader institutions.

In lower school, your level of kindness defines you. In middle school, your level of popularity defines you. In upper school, your clique-identity defines you. In college, your majors and minors define you.

Your courses of study are incredibly important components of your identity in college. So choose wisely. I decided to choose the FGSS major and the LGBT minor (they go hand in hand, actually):

  • Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major: At Cornell, we don’t simply study “Women’s Studies” or “Gender Studies,” but rather, we study FGSS. By this, I mean to say that we study the intersectionality between feminist movement, gender—in its general form—and queer politics as it relates to broader institutions.

As a gay-identifying male, I came to Cornell already sure that I would major, or the very least minor, in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I feel that it’s imperative that queer identifying individuals be familiar with the history of the movements that have given them the rights and privileges that they currently have. Granted, we don’t necessarily have very many privileges, but relative to the 1950’s, we’re living pretty well in our current American society. What I truly enjoyed about the major, prior to coming to Cornell, was the idea that such a major even exists! With Ivy League institutions being what they are, I was surprised that Cornell was so liberal and progressive so as to have such a major.

After spending two years at Cornell, and having taken over 15 courses in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and LGBT Studies departments, I think I have a basic understanding of what goes on in the major. What I won’t do here is tell you graduation requirements—as a simple Google search could help you to answer that. What I will tell you is why FGSS is such an amazing major:

  • The classes are small: Cornell boasts its 20,000 student population. FGSS, being the major that it is, doesn’t really attract that many students to begin with—after all, it’s no political science or biology. However, small classes are fundamental when it comes to in-depth discussion on the social issues that marginalized communities face. It’s also imperative that classes remain small so as to create safe spaces—queer and feminist politics are controversial issues and everyone should feel comfortable voicing their opinions.
  • You get a different perspective of history: Coming from a high school that specializes in law and society, Global history, and American history, I can wholeheartedly state that I never once learned about queer history. My APUSH professor once mentioned something about Stonewall, but that was just a brief aside. Cornell’s FGSS major has given me an in-depth perspective on the people that have given me the freedom to walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand. As a social activist for the queer community, I find it wonderfully enlightening to hear the stories of those who have re-shaped society for the better.
  • Being with people who understand you: The FGSS major and LGBT minor (which usually go hand in hand) are full of feminists and queers. That’s not to say that there aren’t allies, but the majority of the people who study these disciplines have a purpose for being there. Every class is full of students who understand my struggles and with whom I feel comfortable sharing my personal stories. It’s like being in a queer-straight alliance 24/7!

There are, of course, so many other reasons for my being in the FGSS department, but those are just a few. I would recommend that you take at least one course in the FGSS or LGBT Studies departments before you graduate—hey, you get to watch porn for class!