OP-ED: If Ezra Cornell Could See The Current State of Our University, He Would Be Entirely Too Distracted By The Disuse of The Telegraph to Care

“WHAT WOULD THE FOUNDER THINK?!”—This is a common and deeply scathing critique at Cornell; the prospect of disappointing our university’s proud patriarch, our Big Red Daddy, bears undeniable rhetorical strength. Nonetheless, as a leading scholar on the life and times of Ezra Cornell himself, I can say with some certainty that Mr. Cornell would not care one single iota about the Brooks School of Public Policy, the land acknowledgement email footer, or the fact that you’re still awaiting your financial aid award. No, if our dear departed director miraculously reappeared on campus today, he would only have one thing to say: “WHERE IN GOD’S NAME is my telegraph?”

Never mind about our institution’s slow sink into the corrupt mires of Ivy League nepotism. In the grand scheme of things, what does a federal class-action lawsuit over financial aid price-fixing matter? Who cares about accusations of on-campus bias and administrative failure? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TELEGRAPH? The sturdy foundation upon which rested all the communications of the modern age?

Ezra saw in the telegraph what few men of his time could see: elegant beauty, crystallized perfection in the form of a modest electromagnetic relay. His heart would break before he could process the magnitude of the loss he endured (and long before he would notice that the grad students had unionized, or that the student health center had stopped providing tampons.)

I lament the loss of the telegraph almost daily, in fits of self-flagellation, mourning our first and greatest World Wide Web; and there is no doubt in my mind that if Ezra Cornell were here, the frivolous and petty issues of the 21st century would do nothing to distract him from feeling my same pain.

Perhaps he would sink in agony to his knees on the curb of East Avenue, still there all these decades later. And as he would raise his head, his face streaked with tears, his gaze skipping over the crowds of desperate student protestors to find the sky, there would be nothing left to haunt him but the accursed spectre of the telephone pole.

Cornell Abolishes PE Requirement, Extends Clock Tower Detour Instead

HO PLAZA—Celebrations that Cornell abolished its physical education requirement were short lived amid the university’s announcement that it would be extending the clock tower detour as a replacement. The new detour spans several miles and even requires walking up the slope.

When pressed about their decision to extend the detour, Cornell officials explained that the previous detour “was not rigorous enough” and that it was “embarrassing students couldn’t handle walking an extra 10 feet to go around the clock tower”. 

Some students were taken aback by the new detour, which seeks to emulate a real physical education class: “There were people threatening to make us run laps,” said Katarina Christianus ‘24. “I was making my way up the slope when all of the sudden a middle aged man in athleisure started screaming ‘Move it or lose it, ladies!’.” Christianus claims she speaks for all students when she says she “would really like to go back to the Helen Newman basement, please.”

Other students who thought they schemed their way out of introductory swimming were horrified at the lochness monster in the lagoon spanning the second part of the detour. Charlotte Melle ‘25 described her commute to Milstein Hall as “The saddest, least athletic triathlon recorded in modern history.”  

Though students are obviously unhappy with the recent changes, officials are thrilled to remind students the clock tour detour is only temporary, the normal route through Ho Plaza will be reinstated when the construction is completed in 2-50 years.

Professor One P Sound Away From Blowing Up Microphone

GOLDWIN SMITH HALL—Students in Polynesian Practical Politics were sent ducking for cover amidst Professor Paul Peter’s lecture on the Preparedness of Polynesian Professional Politicians. Professor Peter, who is best known for his over-the-top alliteration and his tendency to practically swallow the microphone every class, had students particularly concerned in this lecture.

“The front row is the splash zone. I learned that the hard way in the first class.” explained student Zachary Prescott ’25, “While I did have to air dry several clothing items after that class, I never feared for my life until today.”

The microphone reportedly spent the class producing sparks with each hard gust of air, while the speaker system seemingly rumbled with each pronunciation of “politics.” When approached by a worried student, Professor Peter made the following statement: “It is perpetually putrid that a person presumes popping phonic paraphernalia per my pronunciation of P. You people prophesize preposterously.”

The speaker system, which managed to remain intact throughout that lecture, tragically shattered upon Professor Peter’s recap of his weekend plans, which apparently included “picking a peck of purple peppers.”

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President Pollack Suggests Fired Starbucks Workers Just Ask “Vice Barista” To Do All The Hard Stuff

DAY HALL—Though union organizers had hoped to share their demands with President Pollack at a meeting earlier this week, they were instead gifted with the president’s own sage wisdom. Pulling from her personal experience in the workforce, Pollack advised the group to simply seek out the coffee serving equivalent of Ryan Lombardi and “have him do everything that seems kinda difficult.”

“President Pollack seemed to struggle with what our jobs were,” recalled Adya Henlow ‘24. “She kept telling us about the ‘importance of proper delegation,’ but when we explained that we were trying to unionize in order to make sure we were all getting paid the right amount, it seemed to really get through to her,” continued Henlow. “She said she ‘basically did the same thing’ with a bunch of other university presidents each time they had to admit new students. I was excited to finally find some common ground but her lawyer cut her off super quickly.”

When the delegation attempted to explain the numerous labor law violations Starbucks was commiting by closing the stores for unionizing, Pollack was taken aback, halting the meeting. “Oh my god! I can’t believe it, more of this ILR school bullshit. I can’t stand this stuff,” exclaimed Pollack. “But this is exactly what I’m talking about, watch what I do here. Ryan! Ry-aaaan! Get in here.” After Vice President Lombardi explained to Pollack that only she was authorized to make the kinds of decisions being discussed and that he was not willing to put on a pantsuit and wig, the meeting was able to resume.

Negotiations stalled once more, however, after President Pollack took issue with the hiring of a new coffee provider for the on-campus eateries, as she could not believe that “you guys actually eat the food here?”

John Wilkes Booth? Martha Doesn’t Give Us Presidents’ Day Off

ITHACA, NY—Cornell University President Martha Pollack’s decision not to suspend classes on Presidents’ Day has drawn fierce criticism from concerned patriots across campus.

“President Pollack has brought shame to this institution by disrespecting the legacies of three of our nation’s presidents,” said George Ramirez ‘23, spokesperson for the Cornell Historical Society. “By not celebrating this most sacred of American holidays, President Pollack shows a blatant disregard for our past leaders: George Washington, whose birthday is the basis for Presidents’ Day; Abraham Lincoln, whose February 12th birthday we combine with Washington’s; and Lyndon Johnson, whose Uniform Monday Holiday Act established the celebration of Washington’s Birthday on the third Monday in February. In this way, President Pollack is King George III, John Wilkes Booth, and the Vietnam War all rolled into one.”

Many students had strong reactions to Pollack’s decision.

“The fact that President Pollack would disrespect Lincoln’s legacy like this is especially disgusting given how Cornell plasters the year ‘1865’ everywhere,” said Hillary Ryan ‘25. “It’s like they want to rub it in that he’s dead.”

“There’s something sinister going on here,” claimed Jason Reynolds ‘24. “Pollack wants us to forget all about Presidents’ Day. Because if we can’t remember any American presidents, who is there left to be President? That’s right: President Martha E. Pollack.”

Risley Hall resident Sherman Gilmore ‘26 defended Pollack’s decision. “While I don’t agree with his actions later in life, John Wilkes Booth was a very talented actor. As a Performing and Media Arts major myself, when Martha murdered the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, I felt represented.”

Faced with tough questions about her decision, Pollack reportedly shouted “sic semper tyrannis” before jumping off stage and running away. At press time, Pollack and co-conspirator Ryan Lombardi were barricaded in a Northern Virginia barn, engaged in a standoff with the US Army.

Cornell Mandates Land Acknowledgement Be Uttered Each Time University Invests In More Stolen Land

MORRILL HALL—In the wake of research showing Cornell’s endowment was derived from government gifts of stolen Native land, campus administration has made Cornell the world’s first university to deliver a land acknowledgement before completing purchases of stolen Native land from the federal government.
“We Cornellians take pride in our status as a land-grant university,” stated Vice President James Deanson ‘82. “We agreed, in exchange for millions of dollars in stolen sacred Native land, to not actively discriminate against minority groups on campus. When we were told by Native researchers that this land was violently and illegally stolen for us, and that the university continues to participate in that land theft and aggression, we knew it was time to act. We promise that before we illegally acquire any more stolen land, we will present a somber acknowledgement of the past and present indigenous peoples we are stealing that land from.”
Following the announcement, Cornell released a comprehensive plan to “come to terms with our place in history.” This plan, among other initiatives, set a timeline for the establishment of a committee to review the ethics of developing a framework for discussing Native topics in select Cornell programs. In addition, administrators pointed to efforts by the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program and Cayuga nation officials in developing the acknowledgement, which they claimed only to have made “minor edits” to.
“‘Minor edits?’ They erased the entire thing,” argued John Westchester of AIISP. “We wrote up a land acknowledgment that notes Cornell’s complicity in Native land dispossession, and they added ‘but Cornell is cool and progressive now so we forgive them and like them a lot actually’ to the end of every sentence. They also threatened to move us to Morrill Hall and made us promise not to ‘make the university look bad’ through ‘factual statements about potential crimes.’”
Asked to comment on these accusations, the University Press Office responded that “We are committed to uplifting Native voices, but the people who disagree with us are all liars and shouldn’t be listened to.”

Cornell Issues Free Monocle and British Butler to Students in Air Conditioned Dorms

NORTH CAMPUS–Cornell Housing and Residential Life left many students hot and bothered this Monday after announcing that all residents of air conditioned dorms would be issued a complimentary monocle and butler to distinguish them from the uncooled masses.

“Although Cornell has a proud 150-year history of prioritizing privileged students at the expense of their disadvantaged classmates, there is one group of elites who has not yet received proper recognition: students with air conditioning,” the announcement read. “Through the simple act of reappropriating all financial aid money to purchase servants and novelty eyewear, we have finally corrected Cornell’s greatest injustice.”

The proclamation has caused quite a hullabaloo among members of the air-conditioned gentry, who have cheered the news more heartily than a repeal of child labor laws for coal mines.

“It’s high time such a boon was granted to members of the conditioned class!” ballyhooed Josiah Fauntleroy ‘26, facial muscles straining to hold his Big Red monocle. “It’s so draining being accosted by peasantry wishing to discuss matters like ‘sweat’ and ‘heat’ when a distinguished gentleman like myself has no knowledge of these afflictions! The public has no idea how we suffer–” Fauntleroy suddenly turned to his new butler: “I say, not enough sugar in this tea, old chap!” The butler quickly retreated to procure a refreshment more befitting his master.

Shortly afterward, Housing and Residential Life sent a follow-up email promising mandatory dunce caps and clown noses for all Low Rise inhabitants.

Professor Begs Students to Make “Very Informed Decision” About Turning In Their Homework

MALOTT HALL—In a passionate display of wishy-washy spinelessness, math professor Audrey Cook took the first twenty minutes of her morning lecture to plead with her students to really, really think about whether they should bother handing in their homework.

“Listen, I know you all cheered last week when I said you didn’t have to do your work anymore,” Cook said, falling dramatically to her knees and clasping her hands together as if in prayer. “But with the increasing prevalence of people failing the midterm, I strongly encourage all of you to at least, you know, consider completing your homework. And maybe even turning it in, if you want! No pressure, though!”

Cook’s desperate appeal to her class’s sense of righteousness went almost completely ignored, just like the problem sets that had been due on Friday. “Honestly, this is kind of embarrassing,” said Sidney Vasquez ‘23, who has not turned in a single assignment all semester and plans to keep it that way. “If she wanted us to do the work, maybe she should’ve kept it in the syllabus.”

“I know I have no authority to make the kids do anything,” bemoaned Cook, seeming to forget all about her job of being the professor in charge of grading things. “I just hope that if I guilt-trip them and look pathetic enough, maybe the problem will go away on its own?”

As of press time, Cook had begun to weep tragically into her hands, surreptitiously glancing up every few seconds to see if any student looked concerned.

Cornell Introduces New “Sluggish Tests” That Provide Results in 15 Days

DAY HALL—Students across campus have been left in suspense after administration announced that Ithaca campus residents are now required to take “sluggish tests” that produce results in fifteen days. 

“Sluggish tests are the perfect diagnostic tool for this stage of the pandemic,” attested President Pollack via email. “In a mere fifteen days, they inform students whether they were safe to socialize two weeks ago or if they have exposed their entire social circle to COVID, with an astonishing 67% accuracy. We believe these sluggish tests will be key to reopening campus within the next fourteen years.”

Unlike the sluggish tests, President Pollack moved quickly to shut down criticism of the new testing regimen.

“Many students have asked why we would switch to sluggish tests when there are faster and more accurate COVID tests available,” the email continued. “In the interest of providing students with a sense of stability in this unpredictable pandemic, we have decided to lower COVID testing to the level of the rest of our ineffective and bogged-down healthcare system. Additionally, the money saved on tests can go to more urgent matters, such as our seventh continuous semester of construction on North Campus.”

The email concluded by cautioning students that due to server outages at Cayuga Medical Center, students may not receive their results for up to three months.