To the Editor:
In light of the recent essay, “In Ithaca, Cornell Isn’t Paying Its Fair Share” (The Chronicle Review, October 16), I wish to share a firsthand perspective that draws from my experiences as both a Cornell graduate and a product of a rural K-12 public school within the same region of New York.
I think that the essay is unbalanced, and some specific arguments do not make sense when considered in context. For example, the assertion that Cornell pushes “low-income and largely non-white residents” to the city’s peripheries is an oversimplification. The economic challenges in towns close to Ithaca are substantial, and my family members have gone to great lengths to remain employed in this region. My father endured a 170-mile daily round-trip commute to keep his job as an HVAC mechanic. My sister, a single mother, currently drives 140 miles back and forth to work to provide for her family. In truth, there are affordably priced homes within a 20-mile radius of Cornell. Such a distance is considered a manageable commute in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Additionally, since Cornell is a land grant institution, several colleges within the university provide affordable access to world-class educational opportunities to New Yorkers who otherwise may not have access. Cornell accepted my mother, a prior high-school dropout, as a nontraditional student transfer from our local community college, and she is also a graduate of Cornell law school. The experience of being a Cornell student and graduate has been transformative for both me and my mom — we got education and cultural exposure that would have been impossible without Cornell’s presence near our home.
While the debate about Cornell’s financial obligations to Ithaca continues, it’s indisputable that the university plays a pivotal role in the region’s economic, cultural, and educational vitality. Many current and former Finger Lakes residents owe their livelihoods and opportunities in part to Cornell’s presence.
Athletic Training and Clinical Nutrition
University of Kentucky