Fencing in a Problem?

30 03 2010

For anyone (like myself) who was away for break, returning to campus brought with it an unpleasant surprise; the installment of large “temporary” fences along several of the campus bridges over the gorge. The Triphammer Foot Bridge is closed until May 26th. Stewart Avenue has no fences yet, but Cornell and the city of Ithaca are in talks on how and when to install them.

The logic to support such a move isn’t hard to figure out. It’s a very visual gesture that makes it look like Cornell is attempting the address the recent series of gorge deaths. In other places, fence installment has significantly curtailed bridge jumping, such as the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto. But still, it’s really unfortunate that this is what things have become, due to the recent tragedies.

I don’t like it. But apart from installing nets or filling in the gorges, there’s not much else that can be done. This is going to look really bad during Cornell Days, and for Alumni Reunion if they’re still up in June.

Cornell in the Limelight for Recent Spate of Deaths

18 03 2010

A short list:

Fox News, CNN, BBC News, MSNBC, Slate (who tied it into an older article from 2006), The New York Times, The London Times,

Fox News, ABC and CBS and the L.A. Times are all running the same written article regarding Cornell’s recent losses. According to CNN, six of our student fatalities since August have been suicides.

Of course, most news outlets give registered users an uncensored chance to express their opinion on articles such as the Cornell events. Some of these are so offensive that they should never be reproduced. But to sum it up, apparently, some combination of allowing women on campus/not being a good Christian school/too much emphasis on grades/natural selection/recreational drug use/Greek life/no social life/the weather/it’s in upstate New York/ caused it to happen. This reminds me why I usually avoid the comments section on these websites. The most embarrassing part is watching posters claim they’re Cornell alumni and then argue about how great or terrible the school is/was during their time of attendance.

Cornell loves to be in the news, but I’m sure they’d rather be in the headlines for almost anything but the recent series of tragic deaths.

Article Regarding Gorge Suicides at Cornell

16 03 2010

A Cornell alumni, Rob Fishman ’08, recently wrote a journalism master’s thesis during his graduate studies at Columbia University, which explored the history and reactions to the prevalence of gorge suicides here at the university. The thesis was updated and partially reprinted in an article for the Huffington Post. The work is arguably one of the most well-written articles I’ve ever read about this particularly sensitive topic.

This blog has recently received a number of strong criticisms regarding a previous article that “treats the death of students as a statistic”. The intention of that article was anything but. It served to attach a name and a circumstance to each of the cases that the university’s student body has had to deal with since the academic year began. It has been a sad year for the university and all those affected by these tragic losses.

Dear Alpha Delt, Way to Be “Ivygated”

13 03 2010

In what has already been a horrendous semester for Greek System public relations, Alpha Delta Phi had once again managed to prove that it is still possible to set new lows. Someone leaked a pledge lineup and some nice little hazing activities to the Ivygate tabloid blog. If this is anything like Pi Phi’s fiasco, then this should attract enough attention that you guys will be meeting with the OFSA any day now. Have fun with those sanctions you’re about to get.

Quoting Ivygate:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: “redacted” <redacted>
Date: Mar 4, 2010 11:42 AM
To: <alphadeltaphipledges2010@googlegroups.com>

Its that time again boys, with new rules.

Be at the bottom of Alpha Delta Phi Drive at 9:10 PM tonight, and each of us must have:
-1 pack of cigs
-1 lighter
-2 quarters
-a helmet and a cup (as in the kind lacrosse and hockey players wear)
-shaving cream
-porn (can be magazine or video… extra points if you find Pirates 2 (can be downloaded and burned))
-Dog food
-either a 6-pack of beer or a bottle of liquor/wine (should be something YOU want to drink)
-Protocol attire, but WEAR SNEAKERS

The pledge class as a whole must have these items:
-1 LARGE bottle of tabasco sauce
-2 cases of beer (NOT keystone)
-2 live small goldfish

Figure this shit out ASAP.  Everyone should probably give Shep money to buy the booze.
Guys should also take the bus to Dick’s to get anything sporting-related

-(Author name redacted)

And the debrief:

Okay, so….
I can tell you what alpha delta phi did with everything.
They made their pledges chug mixtures of dogfood, tabasco sauce, and sour cream.
They then proceeded to fill the great halls of their manor with flour, beer, and water, and made their pledges run relay races drunk while they pelted them with dodgeballs.
Then, they made them run naked laps outside the house.
(And, of course, there was the line up).


So Alpha Delt, let me pose two questions: who did you piss off, and how much ass-kissing do you think it will take to fix this debacle. Even our Dean of Students, Alpha Delt Alum Kent Hubbell ’69, has got to be shaking his head in embarrassment right now (less because of the hazing, more for the fact you were outed by a tabloid blog about the Ivy League).

Please Just Let It Stop

13 03 2010



ITHACA — Emergency personnel temporarily suspended the search for a body in Fall Creek on Friday evening.

A driver on Stewart Avenue saw a person drop from Suspension Bridge into Fall Creek gorge about 3:45 p.m. Friday, Ithaca police said. Ithaca police, Cornell Police officers and Ithaca firefighters tracked the body as it traveled downstream toward Stewart Park, and a helicopter joined the search, they added.

Firefighters launched an inflatable boat and searched Fall Creek from its mouth at Cayuga Lake to where the Route 13 bridge crosses it, Ithaca fire officials said. Their part of the search operation was suspended because of darkness, they added.

Efforts to recover the body were unsuccessful because it “frequently disappeared from view,” police officials said. Though they may have identified the person, information was being withheld until they recover the body, confirm the identity and notify the next of kin, they added.

The search may resume today, fire officials said.

Meanwhile, a body recovered in Fall Creek gorge under the Thurston Avenue Bridge on Thursday was identified as Cornell University student William Anthony Sinclair, 19, of Chevy Chase, Md., Cornell officials said. A utility crew working on the underside of the bridge saw Sinclair’s body sometime after 11 a.m., Ithaca police officials said.

Ithaca police, Cornell University Police, Ithaca firefighters and Bangs Ambulance personnel responded to the scene, police said. Using a rope system, four Ithaca firefighters descended to the north embankment and recovered Sinclair’s body. Cornell Transportation Services and Cornell Environmental Health Services assisted at the scene.

Sinclair was a sophomore in the College of Engineering, and Ithaca police and Cornell Police were investigating his death, Cornell officials said.

“On behalf of the entire Cornell community, I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the family of our student, William Sinclair, and to his many friends who will always carry the memory of happier times in their hearts,” said Cornell President David Skorton. “Please join me in keeping them foremost in your thoughts in the days ahead, as we mourn this tragic loss of life.”

They wouldn’t be able to comment until the investigation is complete, Skorton said.

Further information on Sinclair, along with information on counseling and psychological services can be found at http://www.cornell.edu/statements/2010/20100311-william-sinclair.cfm


David J. Skorton

show details 12:11 am (1 day ago)

Dear fellow Cornellian,

It is with deep sorrow that I write to you regarding another death that has occurred in our campus community. Matthew Charles Zika, a junior in the College of Engineering, died this afternoon. While the cause of this tragedy is still under investigation by the Ithaca Police Department, I join all of you in grieving deeply this and the other losses we have experienced together so very recently.

I have asked Susan Murphy, Vice President for Student and Academic Services, to take charge in reaching out to the entire Cornell community, and to do a welfare check throughout the university’s residential community this weekend. She has already arranged for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to be open for students, faculty and staff, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vice President Murphy and her colleagues will be communicating in the days ahead to all of us. Please feel free to respond to her with your concerns or ideas.

As a doctor, teacher and father, I, too want to reach out personally to each one of you – especially our students. I want you to know that it is normal to feel sad or anxious at times, particularly when such tragedies occur. Roommate conflicts, relationship problems, financial challenges and especially academic stress are just some of the pressures that can make us think that things are too difficult.  Your well being is the foundation on which your success is built.  You are not alone. Your friends, your family, your teachers, your colleagues, and an array of counselors and advisors are ready to listen and help you through whatever you are facing. If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help. It is a sign of wisdom and strength.

Cornell is a caring community where the struggles of one of us is a concern for all of us.  You can help by checking in with your classmates, roommates, colleagues and friends to make sure they are well. It is important to take the time, regularly, to reflect on the many things for which we are grateful and on how best to overcome, together, the daily challenges we must face.  This is the time to be with and for one another.


David J. Skorton


Eleventh undergraduate student fatality for the year, twelfth total. Third fatality in a month that involved the gorges. Police and security are currently being stationed on all the bridges to prevent further incidents.

Sincerely, please just let it stop. If these are suicides, nothing is worth doing this over.

A Bad Year Keeps Getting Worse

11 03 2010


This message has been delivered to all users of the Cornell University
electronic mail system.  Do NOT forward this message to individuals or
mailing lists within Cornell.  You cannot be removed from the
distribution. (Sent to postoffice #10.)


University announcement on body found in Fall Creek Gorge

Fellow Cornellians,

I am sorry to have to inform you that another tragedy has occurred on our campus.  A body has been recovered from the Fall Creek gorge near the Thurston Avenue bridge.  The Ithaca police department is investigating the matter.  As soon as we have additional information we will share it with the community.

Counseling and support services are available to all members of the Cornell community.  If you have concerns about your health or the well being of a fellow Cornellian, please contact Gannett Health Services by phone 24/7 (607-255-5155).  Students can reach Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) on campus by calling that same number.  The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) is available 24/7 by calling 800-327-2255 and selecting option 1.  For Cornell United Religious Work (CURW), call 255-4214.

Tommy Bruce
Vice President for University Communications

This information posted: 2010-03-11 13:22:39 -0500


David J. Skorton

show details 8:42 PM

Dear fellow Cornellians,

This morning we learned with deep sadness that we have lost a member of our community whose body was found in the Fall Creek gorge. I am saddened, as I know you are, that another life with unfulfilled promise has been lost.

On behalf of the entire Cornell community, I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the family of our student, William Sinclair, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, and to his many friends who will always carry the memory of happier times in their hearts.  Please join me in keeping them foremost in your thoughts in the days ahead as we mourn this tragic loss of life. For understandable reasons, and out of deference to the family, you will understand that we will not be able to comment on the circumstances of this tragedy until the investigation has been completed by the Ithaca Police Department.

I do want to acknowledge the toll we all may be experiencing from repeated losses already this year.  I sincerely hope that you will join me in reaching out to your classmates, roommates, colleagues and friends to cherish the memories you have of those who have departed us, and to renew your commitment to each other. It is important to take the time, regularly, to reflect on the many things for which we should be grateful and on how best to overcome, together, the daily challenges we must face.



The Cornell Sun continues to provide updates about the body recovered from the bottom of the Fall Creek gorge here. It would seem this body was retrieved not too far from where Bradley Ginsburg ’13’s body was found last month.

News Tidbits 3/9/09: It’s Just An Olive Garden

9 03 2010

Let’s be honest – Ithaca is maybe, ever so slightly, insulated from much of the world around it. The joke of “Ten square miles surrounded by reality” has just a little truth supporting it.

Well, down by Wal-Mart (the benignly named “South Meadow Square”) two outparcels are currently being developed. One is slated to be a Panera Bread. The other is going to be an Olive Garden.

That’s fine and all, but people are just getting too damned excited over this. By people, I mean locals who have lived an worked in the area for much of their lives. My boss and her full-time staffers just about did a tap dance on the counter when the Journal confirmed an Olive Garden was coming (in an exclusive story no less). I was shopping at Tops and the topic du jour was “when’s the Olive Garden gonna open up?”

Really? Endless salad and breadsticks are nice, but you can get the same at Joe’s further up the road near Inlet Island. I’ve been to Olive Gardens before, the last one being in Virginia back in July of last year. The food was decent, certainly nothing I’d write home about. Not exactly the most bang for the buck either (for that, there’s a mildly sketchy Chinese buffet next to the Ithaca Mall in Lansing). Getting all worked up over an Olive Garden planning to open in late summer/early fall is about as worthy an event to get excited for as a buy one get one sale on yogurt at Wegman’s.

Yeah it’s nice. You can sit down now.