March 31, 2020

GALLOWAY | Corona Season: Exposing Cornell’s Simpler-Minded

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Hardly a couple weeks ago, while still a student in the traditional sense, I observed the bespeckling of our once-tangible institution by a scattered but substantial population of a particular type of student. For the sake of your efficient recollection, I’ll attempt to compile them all into a cast of two characters (they aren’t a terribly varied crowd). 

Paying absolutely no attention in an econ discussion section is student number one, daydreaming about enlisting in the active troops of America’s dumbest youth currently deployed on Miami beaches. With the full intention of turning these fantasies into realities, as well as the financial comfort necessary to do so, they envision themselves joining the battalions of idiots devoting their spring breaks to pillaging Florida suburbs filled with senior citizens and major airports filled with travelers from the world’s every corner. 

Student number two is a Human Biology, Health and Society junior possessing the simplicity of a freshman and a propensity for hypocrisy like no other. They’re an all too common Cornellian, perusing Expedia sites in their Nutrition and Global Health lecture, feigning excitement over a now cheaper Cancún trip with their friends they know damn well Daddy could and would have paid for at a pre-Corona price. This is a student whose life is utterly untouched by the novel virus, who believes themselves immune despite having undergone thousands of dollars worth of “global health” courses, who has been a rather dedicated attendee of recent Catherine Street darties (daytime parties), who self-identifies as a pre-med “because they have a passion for helping others” and who seemingly cares not about the lives they put at risk with every mask-free breath they breathe beyond the boundaries of their campus and their parents’ home. 

We are in the midst of a worldwide catastrophe threatening human existence itself, an advancing epidemic with enough vigor to have proven itself unstoppable by even the countless forms of privilege that have long shielded some of Westchester’s finest streets from most other earthly issues. Among the few troubles of this world that cannot be countered by good old racial and socioeconomic advantage, the Coronavirus is no joke. And among the few young people of this world diligent and/or fortunate enough to be receiving a world-class education, Cornell students ought to feel it their due duty, and well within their capacity, to calibrate the gravity of a grave situation and behave justly in response. 

Dragging matters into the realms of the private and personal is bound to sow some fruitful seeds of discomfort among today’s young vacationists and dartiers, so drag I shall. Both my parents are above the age of 60, and my father is severely immunocompromised due to an autoimmune disorder. The inevitably grim result of my father ever falling victim to the virus, in combination with our residence in one of America’s largest and most infected cities, mandates that my small household stays as close as we can manage to utter lockdown for what I speculate will be several months. My situation is far from uncommon and far less severe than a countless number within the greater Cornell community alone. 

It’s frankly embarrassing that one could undergo any amount of study at Cornell only to drop nearly all evidence of their own wisdom or sophistication as soon as some real-world adversity comes along. With immense seriousness, I urge everyone to respect Coronavirus-related guidelines against populating public spaces, upholding others’ and our own safety and well-being in the process. In simpler words for the simpler-minded, stay at home.

by Katriana Galloway