Nooz Staff September 27, 2021

OP-ED: Saying “Don’t Come to Class When You’re Sick” Discriminates Against Cornell’s Sickly Little Victorian Boy Population

My dearest Cornell community—you see us wandering about campus in our finest nightgowns, draped dramatically over the lavatories, or reclining in our sumptuous beds that do nothing to alleviate our physical agonies, but do you truly care about us? Lately I have been witness to a dangerous trend, one that puts my entire community at stake. Telling students to stay home when sick is a direct attack on the sickly little Victorian boy population.

As sickly little Victorian boys, telling us to only come to class when well ensures that we shall never be in class. There is no telling what dangers may assault a sickly little Victorian boy, such as tuberculosis, reading by candlelight, or The Miseries. On my way to Oceans lecture this very Wednesday, I caught chill from the advanced speed with which my horse-drawn carriage proceeded down the cobblestones towards central campus. Should I stay home every time I feel my humors become unbalanced, I would never attend class at all. 

Missing class is especially difficult on a Victorian child such as myself. I try to collect notes from my classmates, but by the time their carrier pigeons arrive at my window I find the prelim has already passed. My father disapproves of this correspondence with the common folk, limited as it is, and often uses the pigeons for riflery practice to teach me a lesson. I have sought to protest, but my choler elevates with worrisome rapidity, and thus I am resigned. I am so lonely in my bedroom, attended to by none but the nurse who mops my fevered brow as I shake like a willow branch in the wind. What is the point of taking a 50-50 mixture of laudanum and cocaine if I cannot then allow myself to be surrounded by 300 of my closest friends as I cough blood into a satin handkerchief? ‘Tis cruelty, dare I say, cruel—

—Mamá? Is that you, here to bring me to heaven? You look so young, and the light is so beautiful. Don’t cry for me, Papá. I am not afraid. The light, it takes away my pain. Goodbye forever, Cornell, goodbye—

Alas, ‘twas but a phantasm wrought by the plagued recesses of my spirit. I must establish swift correspondence with CAPS ere these ghoulish apparitions further impinge upon my coursework. But who am I, a sickly little Victorian boy, to seek counseling in this uncaring university? I can but pray the superintendents pity my woeful pleas.

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