(UPDATED) Cornell’s Library Shutdown Count Up to Three

23 06 2010

So, I log into facebook and find this page being posted into my news feed.

So, this comes as a bit of surprise. But I don’t buy into it. First of all, there’s nothing online — nothing on the Daily Sun, nothing on the engineering website, no data to back this up at all. Secondly, decisions like this are usually made over the span of months, even years (for example, the physical sciences library’s shutdown was formalized in March 2009 (an attentive reader of this blog actually told me about it before the Sun even had published the story); the library did not shut down until nearly a year afterwards (and no offense to Munier, but that library was definitely one of the lesser-used and therefore more expendable library facilties on campus). Decisions like this aren’t just “made” without a great deal of debate beforehand.

The one grain of truth I can throw into this is that the master plan indicates that the facilty to replace Hollister and Carpenter is under way — but that would suggest Carpenter getting demolished, not reappropriated. Plus, that’s still in the planning phases. Maybe a library would be in the Gates Hall plans, which are currently at the very beginning of the funding and approvals process; but I doubt it at this time.

I call bullcrap on this one until some information is published that indicates otherwise (see update). If there is any truth to it, going all alarmist  and calling the office staff (like the page suggests) is just going to make matters worse.

(UPDATED) So the author of the facebook page attached several official-lloking documents detailing the removal of the library’s book to Olin and Uris. IT would appear that the ACCEL computer labs would be kept and the labs would be made into a 24-hour unit (but isn’t that the lab in Upson exists?). Meanwhile, Munier has posted onto their page a link from Mann Library saying that the Entomology Library will be shut down and merged with Mann. So it would appear Cornell’s cost-cutting will shut down two more libraries they consider “less-used”.

I hope Cornell doesn’t release any more ads touting their expansive library system anytime soon.

Two Years Later

18 06 2010

So, times change but this blog is still here. It has been almost exactly two years since this blog was launched (give or take an hour).  I’m not big on statistics for the site, but here’s some numbers:

Number of hits: 90,730 (about 124 hits/day; that’s up from an average of 82 hits/day for the first year alone; so roughly speaking, the second year averaged 166 hits/day)

Monthly stats:

 The highest month, with 10,659 hits, was March 2010. It’s trailed off since then, just as it did the previous year. The drop was so steep because March was when the news about the recent tragedies was most publicized. Which was my cue to take a step back and let things run their course, given the sensitive nature of the events.

Consider the following (and not nearly complete list of) events from the past year:

~The new Physical Sciences building continued its slow but steady construction, nearly complete at this point, while the Hotel School’s 12,000 sq ft addition was completed. The last half of construction also occurred for the Animal Health Diagnostic Center, nearly done as of this writing. Stocking Hall’s reconstruction and renovation was formally announced, and Milstein Hall began to take shape, next to the gaping hole where the mostly underground Johnson Museum addition is currently being constructed. MVR North added a glassy facade while interior work continues to take place, and Gates Hall still floats around in the approved planning phases. According to Cornell’s latest financial report, Gates Hall will be a 70.000 sq ft building, slightly smaller than the 100,000 suggested almost two years ago.

~Over at I.C., the Circle Apartments expansion has been proposed and the indoor athletic facility began to take shape, highly visible even from its collegiate neighbor on East Hill.

~In the city, the Cayuga Green condos still await construction. The ten-story Hotel Ithaca has been approved but has yet to start construction, while the debate over the 1200-bed Collegetown Terrace project off of State Street continues. The Ithaca Gun redevelopment stalled and had to have money reallocated for further remediation, with the hope that work will finally start progressing again in the near future. The Carrowmoor project continued to be trapped in red tape hell, but a Cornell-affiliated proposal for West Hill was announced. It would seem like most of the major private projects stalled this year in light of the recession. However, not all new is bad – a new 5-story apartment building was proposed for 309 Eddy Street and approvals were given for a 4-story 25 -unit expansion of the Coal Yard Apartments off of Maple Avenue. INHS finished its 39-unit Cedar Creek apartment complex and had begun plans for a new project on South Hill.

~In Greek Life, news was not good. Pi Beta Phi and Alpha Delta Phi became fodder for the Ivy League tabloid blog Ivygate, leading to embarassment, and in Alpha Delt’s case, social probation. Kappa Sigma was deactivated for pissing off its national organization, and Pi Kappa Alpha’s rush-gone-wrong brought about their suspension, and later, the university’s announcement that the chapter would be shut down. Let’s see, where there even high notes?…Seal and Serpent hosting Bob Saget is not exactly going to win people over on the Cornell Greek System.

A lot changes within a year. This years seems to be worse than the one prior. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for improvement.

I can remember when I started this blog, I was sitting in my shared bedroom in my apartment, it was pouring on-and-off outside, and feeling bored in Ithaca after settling into my summer jobs. Last year, I wrote the anniversary entry from the Harvey Library of Hampton University, and was rushing to finish because I knew the library would be closing shortly. Now here I am, writing in a cheap subletted apartment in Albany, doing research prior to starting my stint as a grad student at the SUNY for my master’s. Times change, and if anyone had told me this was where my path in life would take me, I would’ve called “bullshit” on that statement. I had general ideas what would happen and what my plans were, but I had no clue this is where I would be two years after starting this blog, and I have no clue where I’ll be one year or two years from now.

However, while the news has changed and a little more has been added to Cornell’s 140+ year history, the message of this blog stays the same. I hope that this blog has helped answer questions that people may have concerning Cornell U and its environs. If this blog makes someone a little more knowledgeable or at least serves as an interesting diversion, then it has done its job.

Cornell Students Party Too Much

13 06 2010

From the Cornell Era:

“Junior Ball week is getting rather overdone. What with the Sophomore Cotillion and the Glee Club concert and the Junior Promenade and numerous private and fraternity parties and the entertainment of guests, for a large number of students the entire week is consumed in pleasaure; more than one student cut all his university engagements last week. [1]”

The same argument could be made today, but the date of his editorial was February 11, 1893. The Cornell Era was a sort of predecessor to the Daily Sun. 

Some arguments never grow old.

[1] Morris Bishop, A History of Cornell, pp. 305.

The Alma Mater

4 06 2010

According to the greatness that is wikipedia, Alma Mater is Latin for “nourishing mother” — appropriate to its modern reference of being the institute of education where one receives their degree. I and perhaps 5,000 others joined the ranks (numbering 245,000 or so) of individuals who can call Cornell their alma mater. But it’s still strange to think that I’m an alumnus now.

So the experience of one class is different from another. If showcasing some of Cornell’s historical figures has proven anything, it’s that times change, as do the experiences change with time. Stuck in the Fast Lane delivered the message that although we are all Cornellians, no one has the same experience. If this blog has proven something, if anything, it merely emphasizes the point that Elie makes; although experiences vary, we all contribute some small amount to the long and finely woven Big Red tapestry.

A student in 1903 was subject to a typhoid epidemic that sickened over ten percent of the city and killed 29 Cornell students (about 1.5% of the school population — comparable to about 300 or so students today; and although directly caused by polluted water, some have indirectly linked the illness to Typhoid Mary Mellon). In contrast, a student in 1969 wondered if the campus would devolve into anarchy and violence, the tension culminating with the infamous Willard Straight Takeover in April of that year. A student this past year will probably remember the sheer number of tragedies that befell the Cornell community, especially the campus suicides. Perhaps on a lighter note, they’ll also remember it as the year the basketball team went to the Sweet Sixteen.

Point is, they’re all vastly different events, but they all still make up a part of Cornell history. As alumni, we’ve all lived through at least some part of that history as students, and hopefully many more years ahead as alumni.

Ca. 1990. Note the street traffic on the lower right, where Ho Plaza is today.

I have nothing that needs to be said about my experiences as a student. I made use of my four years. I felt like I contributed to Cornell’s history, not by writing about it, but my living it, breathing it, being a part of this institution and contributing in some small but personally meaningful way. That’s the most I could ever want.

Although my time at Cornell is over, this blog is not. It will operate in a reduced capacity, certainly. But history is still being made, new buildings are still being erected and new plans being conjured and proposed and maybe even approved and undertaken. History’s flaw and beauty is in its perpetuity. Life at Cornell isn’t ending because I graduated — it goes on for as long as Ezra’s and Andy’s institution remains Far Above Cayuga’s Waters.

That alone will provide me with the inspiration and the motivation to write for some time yet.

The 2010 Cornellian Yearbook

2 06 2010

So, my time at Cornell is wrapped up. It would seem fitting, not only as a graduating student, but for historical reference, to invest in a copy of the 2010 Cornellian yearbook.

Problem is, they suck.

First of all, if someone wanted to preorder, they make it pointless by offering no discount or advantage whatsoever. Not one dime, no personalization of the cover, nothing. There’s no incentive to order early so many people don’t. Of course, they print hundreds upon hundreds of copies anyway because they know over 3500 undergrads are about to graduate.

As Elie already noted, the historical accuracy and the writing are nothing short of atrocious. It would be one thing if they seemed to try at historical accuracy. But the mistakes are glaring, appalling, and most unfortunately, frequent.

I guess what I get hung up on are the photos of the students. Okay, so they sorted them by college (not done in older yearbooks). That’s cute. Rather pointless since everyone has friends spanning all schools and it makes them difficult to look up, but I digress. But it’s just a photo and a name. Could they at least make a half-hearted attempt to capture the glory of the old yearbooks?

The old yearbooks used to give a form to graduating seniors, usually when they had their photo taken, or sometimes submitted separately. The senior would give a very brief summary of their activities and accomplishments, no more than two of three printed lines. It usually went along these lines (and it varied depending on how much the person wanted to include):

HUXLEY, Martha. Ag. Ho-Nun-De-Kah. Cornell United Religious Work. Dean’s List.

HYMES, John.  Arts. Lambda Chi Alpha. Navy ROTC. Scabbard & Blade. Dean’s List. Graduate, Moorestown High School.

In earlier years, they were included in the space next to the photos. In later years, this section was moved to the back of the yearbook. In the past few years, it has been done away with completely. Which is a real shame. One of the things your yearbook should be memorable for is the inclusion of your accomplishments as well as those of your friends and classmates. Take that away and the yearbook loses a lot of its importance (especially to me, someone who would depend on those little bios for historical analysis of individuals).

On that note, the fraternity section — crap. The staff couldn’t get a group photo from each house as they have in almost every year prior? Bullcrap. Photos of the house are token, and all can be collected with a good set of wheels and a good camera within two or three hours at most. At least attempt to get a list of seniors from each house.

The yearbook tries to offset it’s cost (which, since it costs nearly $100, must not be working) by selling back pages to the parents of students seeking to lionize their children. I for one am not a fan of public displays of adulation. I have no desire to see full page ads of your son at ages 3, 8, 12, 17, and now and read about how proud you are. Couldn’t you have just bought a nice card instead? Back in the day, the Cornellian was more reliant on donations for ad space from companies in Ithaca – clothing and other retail stores, restaurants, B&B’s and the like. It was less egocentric and, in my humble opinion, more professional.

The photos in the Cornellian? Nice, but not nearly enough to make up for the steaming pile that comprises the rest of the book. Arguably, they can’t control the lack of hundreds of seniors from the yearbook either (which I felt uncomfortable looking through and not seeing their faces, but it’s their choice whether to get their photo taken or not).

I love history and I believe yearbooks are a valuable historical tool. Cornell has a fine tradition of quality yearbooks that are a great resource for research or even just the merely curious. But this was pathetic and shameful. This yearbook does not deserve to be associated with Cornell University and has diminished historical value.

In conclusion, the 2010 Cornellian Yearbook is absolute crap.