Everyone has said that this year’s presidential election is the most important one of our lives. And yet, it seems that we’re all regarding it as one big joke, with many memes resulting from various campaign rallies and presidential debates. We make fun of things when we get too uncomfortable. When the severity of a situation becomes too great, we turn it into a digestible joke. It’s like that nervous laugh that comes out during an interview.
Editor’s note: Historical information from this article comes from two main sources: “Our Most Vulnerable Election” by Pamala Karlan, published in the New York Review of Books, and The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents by William A. DeGregorio. By the time this article is published, we might have a slightly better idea of how this year’s presidential election might turn out. Make no mistake: even though either candidate’s campaign, as well as various media outlets, will try their best to declare a victor the night of Election Day, there is actually a possibility that we will not know for sure who the true winner is for a few days. This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that many people are voting via absentee or mail-in ballots, laws in certain states barring the processing of absentee ballots until Election Day itself and other complications. A possible prolonged dispute over the official results looks more and more possible.
The presidential election is coming up in a few days and thinking about the consequences of America’s choice next Tuesday is both devastating and overwhelming. I’ve spent the past week or so trying to clear my head of the realization of what could soon become reality. So, I’ve been watching a lot of TV and really just engaging in any activity that can take my mind off of it. Don’t get me wrong: I am in no way ignoring or not taking part in this election, as that’s simply not an option for me. I don’t have the privilege to absolve myself from this election and any associated political discussions, given that my rights and the rights of my loved ones are on the line. All I can do is try and temporarily shield myself from the reality of this election’s outcome through indulging in whatever activities I enjoy.
Let’s face it: the world’s in a really bad place right now. America has never been so divided, and with the upcoming election, all of this country’s divisiveness will come to a head. It’s a lot to think about, and many of us Cornellians are reasonably angry and afraid for our future. However, too much stress is never a good thing, especially because it can impact your body mentally and physically. So, if you find yourself becoming extremely stressed out on Election Day, here are some fun activities you can do that are election-related but won’t stress you out!
Online education is a pretty polarizing topic nowadays. Most of us are experiencing it firsthand, and after several months of using Zoom, chances are you either love its flexibility and leniency (how else would I get to attend lectures in pajamas?) or you just want to throw your stupid laptop out the window because your background image has been permanently burned into your retinas. With all the controversy surrounding “Zoom University,” it’s worth considering whether online school is actually a viable teaching method. Virtual education has existed for a while now, but in times of COVID-19, it has quickly become the standard to ensure safety for students. But is this an appropriate standard for a modern, technological world?
The class of 2025 will be applying to college in the midst of a global pandemic, and Cornell has chosen to relieve the single most stressful aspect of the college application process: standardized testing. The Sun reported back in April that Cornell would be the first Ivy League institution to waive the standardized testing requirement for both early and regular decision applicants in this year’s admission’s cycle. All eight other Ivies quickly followed suit, but Cornell will be remembered as the one that paved the path. Despite its revolutionary implications, though, “Cornell will not go test-optional permanently.” This announcement was disappointing to me and, I’m sure, to many other prospective applicants looking ahead to a post-pandemic world. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to slow down and reflect on our old ways of life, but contemplation loses its significance if action is not simultaneously taken to reflect our newfound wisdom.
Let’s face it: making friends at college is hard. Adjusting to life on a college campus can be a real challenge, and in COVID times, these challenges have only grown. Being far away from home with no one you know is a terrifying prospect, and being stationed at home but away from campus can make you feel isolated. Either way, you might start to feel lonely. Loneliness is a condition where there is a deficit between someone’s desires for social interaction and their experiences with it.
The method of college reopenings around the globe has been under public scrutiny during these initial weeks of the fall semester. Admins and students alike are being assessed on their ability to resume in-person instruction safely when very limited physical interaction is even deemed safe. Education systems are being tested, and the whole world is watching.
One particular point of contention has been the freshmen class’ ability to comply with Cornell’s behavioral compact and CDC health guidelines. This assumption of irresponsible behavior dominating North Campus, perhaps premature, may be rooted less in the truth of the matter at Cornell but rather in media representations of other universities’ reopening experiences. In most recent news, Syracuse students held a party with hundreds of freshmen only days after move-in, resulting in 23 interim suspensions from the University.
A similar issue was brought closer to home at Cornell and even closer to its North Campus when news spread of a not-so-socially distant party from freshman TikTok star, Jessica Zhang.
The American prison system is incredibly flawed and unjust, but this is something we all already know. When we talk about problems in the system, the same ideas pop up, notably the privatization of prisons, mass incarceration and lack of rehabilitation programs. While it’s great that we have acknowledged these issues, we should start to think beyond the scope of them and get a little more radical. Let’s talk about capping prison sentences at 20 years. I know this idea may sound radical, and even dangerous, but hear me out and you’ll see why it’s the best thing to do. We currently put more people behind bars than any other country does, but that doesn’t make us any safer.
You’re rotting. Your brain is shriveling, and your body is shrimping. I hate to say it, but you can’t claim your all-virtual internship is keeping you on your game when you’ve dropped to the behavioral capacity of a house cat; you’re periodically inspired to nibble at your dwindling snack stash, but otherwise you slink and slither miserably around the house without a single objective, leaving your hair everywhere and arguably serving little to no purpose in general. No amount of the profound self-introspection you congratulate yourself for carrying out in these lonesome times, or of the James Baldwin quotes and politically charged articles you’ve added to your Instagram story, can reverse the truth of you having begun to regularly converse with your bedside lamp, roughly your intellectual equal these days. We’ve gone months now without that constant whirl of stimulation that was many of our worlds pre-COVID, and, no matter how many squats you do a day or how many new drugs you try, the conjoined forces of time and mandated self-quarantine are dimming us all.