As I’ve not so subtly pointed out before, I personally believe that some of the University’s recently approved policies may have been thrown together just a bit quickly in an attempt to make the administration appear more responsible or relevant, without a ton of thought given to the actual problems at hand. For example, the new alcohol policies seem to have done little more than politely ask the students to find something to do in Ithaca on weekends other than binge drink, while the latest “Diversity Initiatives” politely ask us to acknowledge that, yes, there are black people here . I do not doubt their intentions and I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of every decision, but it’s safe to say that changes are happening slowly, at best.
That being said, there are definitely still many aspects of campus life here that could use some tweaking, and the best part is, a lot of these problems are easy to solve. In fact, there are several policies that Cornell could adopt right now that could create positive change immediately, such as…
Designated Tables for Solo Eaters
If President Skorton decided to eat lunch at Terrace today, we’d see this implemented tomorrow. Alas, this is not the case, so I’ll start off with the basics and lay out the problem visually, since this seems to have become an extremely complex concept for lots of people. Try to stay with me, and in the end we’ll bring it full circle and attempt to find a solution together (by which I mean, I’ll write it, and you read it).
Was designed for this:
But not this:
And certainly not this:
If you happened to have missed any of that, what we’ve figured out so far is that a four-person table is meant for four stock photo models to enjoy their meals, and not for just one stock photo model to do homework and/or stare at a wall. This translates well into the real world and, specifically, most of the cafeterias at Cornell. It doesn’t become an issue, however, until there are more two- to four-person groups looking for somewhere to sit than there are tables available, which it turns out is actually all of the time.
For this reason I propose a modest solution to the administration: do you know those huge, often circular, like twelve person tables that are only useful the week after sororities reveal their Bigs and Littles and literally no other time ever? Those are ideal locations to require people eating alone to sit at, and here’s why.
Firstly, if we can talk numbers for a moment, this is the clear seat-maximizing strategy. Rather than one student awkwardly taking up four seats and leaving three empty, we now have twelve students filling a twelve-seater which would otherwise probably not have happened, leaving the four-seaters to be taken by four people at once. This affects your bottom line, Cornell, because it is not uncommon for a group of friends to leave an eatery if there is not space for everyone to sit, meaning you don’t get their BRB’s which… you’ve already been paid real money for anyway. God damnit you’re clever.
There still remains the vast cultural impact such an initiative would have on the Cornell dining experience. In the current state, individual people will often sit at large tables so as to minimize their contact with other humans, forcing already-social groups to sit at huge tables with other groups. This is ass-backwards. By enforcing solo-seating tables, we allow the people who already have friends to socialize in peace, while encouraging the people without friends to make new ones. Best-case scenario, they won’t have to eat lunch alone anymore like fucking Steven Glansberg*.
*Note: Yes, I realize that eating alone does not necessarily mean you are a loser. I eat alone, often. This is mostly a joke, but I do think it could actually work in some places.
Tweet the Song Playing from the Clock Tower
This has bugged me for awhile, if not only because it’s such a simple fix to what I consider to be a big problem. I think we can all agree that there are few things more obnoxious than being distracted from Facebooking during a lecture because you can’t figure out what the chimes master was playing as you walked to class (but yes, we believe you, it’s right there on the tip of your tongue). As of now, there is literally no way to find out the answer, since it seems like every time this occurs, you happen to be the only person on campus who was even paying attention at the time. It may not seem like that big of a deal to some of you, but when a child of the 90’s can’t decide if they heard this song or this song because everything played by an apartment-sized xylophone sounds basically like this, shit gets frustrating real quick.
I checked, and it turns out pretty much every building at Cornell has its own twitter account except for the clock tower, so this is either a massive oversight or a prejudice against phallic symbols. Let’s change that, Cornell. You could go with some sort of basic user name, like @CornellClockTower, or @CUChimes, or my personal favorite, @NellsBells. Just like that, everyone with a Twitter account has access to the name of every song and the exact time of day it was played, and everyone can sleep well knowing that Kyle is an asshole because he said it wasn’t Hotel California but you totally knew it was. Kyle.
The real kicker to this initiative is that Twitter isn’t just a one-way street. Not only can the chimes masters broadcast to us what they’re playing, but also we as listeners can tweet back at them to make requests, and who could possibly argue that is a bad idea (besides the chimes masters)? The only issue would be having to put a limit on how many times “Call Me Maybe” could be played per day (sorry).
(UPDATE: Since writing this article, this actually happened.)
While you’re working on that, keep in mind that we’ll all still be avoiding Ho Plaza altogether until you…
Ban Quarter Carding on Ho Plaza
A quick anecdote: the other day, a friend of mine was walking across Ho Plaza when he was approached by a young woman offering him a small sheet of paper. She then told him all about the wonderful fund raiser that was occurring, right now, for a good cause, in front of the Cornell Store. Then, she pointed to the bake sale that had set up shop not 15 yards away from where they were standing, with a large sign endorsing that cause.
Clearly, the whole quarter carding phenomenon has gone a bit too far. This particular bake sale was made apparent to my friend by employing three different methods, one of which was a waste of paper, and another a waste of time. I promise all of you aspiring presidents of Brownies for a Better Botswana Club: baked goods will sell themselves if you don’t go around invading the personal bubble of every third person you see.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advocating a good cause, from raising awareness for a horrible disease to promoting your hip-hop/bluegrass fusion dance group’s third annual “You’Z a Hoe Down.” It’s all good to me, but the last place I want to discuss it is on my way to class. I’ve been on both sides of the awful are-we-making-eye-contact-yes-wait-no-ok-wait-here’s-a-quarter-card shuffle, and I believe both the student body and the administration should keep two important things in mind:
First, let’s face it: unless you have no soul, you don’t actually want to quarter-card. It’s just your shift and you can’t think of a tasteful way to throw your entire stack into the air, scramble around for them like they’re important, and hope other people just panic and follow suit. You’re well aware that you’re considered maybe two steps above a homeless person by everyone that passes, regardless of what your cards say, but you put Co-Treasurer of Dubstep for Haiti Club on your résumé and you feel like you owe it to some higher power to get out there and earn it.
Secondly, there’s the issue of wasted paper. Cornell is a pretty progressive institution, sitting in an even more progressive town, it’s 2012, and yet the most popular promotional strategy has deviated extremely little from that of the Colonial Era town crier. Seriously, spreading the good word is like half of the reason social media was invented – feel free to use it to your heart’s delight. In doing so, you will reduce your carbon footprint by about 100% while simultaneously looking 100% fewer people in the eye as they give you that unmistakable “are you sure you want me to take this? Because it’s going right in the trash” look.
And yes, I understand that a majority of people immediately reject or ignore random Facebook event invitations, often without even reading them. That’s the same success rate you’ll get with paper. The Decline button is just the new Ivy Room trashcan.