Cornell Prez Heading Out

Cornell President David Skorton, who has held the position since 2006, was named the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute. He will be the first physician in charge at the Smithsonian. Skorton’s shipping out from Ithaca at the end of the next school year, starting at the Institute in July 2015—so he’ll be around for Cornell’s sesquicentennial (150, guys).

Skorton got to Cornell with a bang in 2006, living in a freshman dorm and getting his own ice cream flavor. He was, by all accounts, a jazzy dude. In the seriousness realm, he’s tried ending hazing and scored Cornell its very own NYC tech campus.

We can’t imagine why Skorton would want to leave Cornell (OK we can, it’s because Ithaca), but in this last year we hope to see an increase in jazz shows and idealism. If you catch Skorton up to anything fun, drop us a line.

Institutional Ethics: Scorpions X, the Not-Quite-Caped Crusaders

Cornell’s got a new crop of superheroes this year—except they’re more Watchmen than Superman, and less Batman than these guys. They call themselves Scorpions X (which is, in all honesty, a pretty sweet name), and they fight injustice via subversive and inflammatory social commentary: flyers, videos, a fake newspaper, etc. They’ve also got the Daily Sun’s panties in a twist. Who are they?

Well, nobody knows.

And apparently that’s a problem for some people—mostly the Cornell administration. They’ve even threatened to prosecute the good Scorpions for allegedly impersonating President David Skorton in a sarcastic school-wide email sent on Sept. 22nd. “We would like members of the Cornell community to be aware that we will continue to take strong measures against sexual and racist and homophobic assaults,” it read. “But we wish to make it very clear that blaming anyone in general for the actions of specific individuals is not the best way to alter the atmosphere of tolerance which fosters such assaults.”

Ouch. Would you like some ice for that burn, Dr. Skorton?

Judging by his spokesperson’s response—who said the email was “outrageous” and apparently “criminal behavior”—he probably needs it.

I find it incredibly ironic that the administration wants the students behind Scorpions X to step forward, but is simultaneously trying to prosecute them for exercising their First Amendment rights. (Aside: if you can’t take a little defamation, you probably don’t deserve to be president of anything.) It’s clear that these students are reacting to what they see as a pervasive climate of discrimination and hostility—problems that they feel that the university hasn’t adequately addressed. Read the rest of this entry »

Cornell President Pens NYTimes Op-Ed: “A Pledge to End Fraternity Hazing”

Cornell’s Greek community can expect some pretty radical changes in the coming weeks and months. That’s the word from President David Skorton, who took to the pages of the New York Times today to outline, in broad strokes, his plan for a hazing-free Cornell:

Yesterday, I directed student leaders of Cornell’s Greek chapters to develop a system of member recruitment and initiation that does not involve “pledging” — the performance of demeaning or dangerous acts as a condition of membership. While fraternity and sorority chapters will be invited to suggest alternatives for inducting new members, I will not approve proposals that directly or indirectly encourage hazing and other risky behavior. National fraternities and sororities should end pledging across all campuses; Cornell students can help lead the way.

The move was all but inevitable after Cornell sophomore, and SAE brother, George Desdunes died after a night of reverse-hazing, back in February. That story has (rightfully) been a persistent black mark on the university over the past half-year, as a months-long police investigation resulted in the May indictment of four SAE pledges; followed shortly thereafter by a $25-million wrongful-death lawsuit against the fraternity, filed by Desdunes’ mother. The university had already planned on overhauling regulations for Greek organizations, and it became clear almost immediately after Desdunes’ death that those efforts would be redoubled.

We’ll keep the comment to a minimum for now, except to say that Skorton’s sentiments are all well and good, but ending decades-long, institutionalized practices is a bit more difficult than telling the Grey Lady, “It shall be so.” It will be interesting to see what substance comes out of Skorton’s initiative.

Hello, Cornell Coeds: My Name is David Skorton, and I Am Here to Sex You Down

And he just don’t stop.

We knew Cornell Super-Prez David Skorton could play mad jazz sax straight Clinton-style. What we didn’t know is he rocks the jazz flute just as hard, in the proud tradition of one Ron Burgundy. (Sorry for the videophone quality.)

This begs the question, could Skorton nail Veronica Corningstone?

(Big ups to Dan Dryden for the footage. Just for the hell of it, we’ve included the original clip from Anchorman after the jump.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Skorton Popularity Now Just Getting Weird

Whatever you may think of him, new Cornell President David J. Skorton has one hell of a PR team. Aww, he’s living in a freshman dorm! Gee, he sure can wail on the sax! Golly, he’s even got his own ice cream flavor! We were just getting ready to consummate our Skorton-love, with the Right Reverend Zuckerberg presiding (i.e., friend him), when we saw this:  

Skorton Popularity Now Just Getting Weird
Now this is just weird. We know students are supposed to welcome the new boss. But to friend him beyond the Facebook-decreed limits for friendship? What happened to rebellion?

Cornell hasn’t just drunk Skorton’s Kool-Aid; it’s been doing keg-stands. Read Skorton’s inaugural speech. He squeezed the Cornell experience into some awkward dancing metaphor, concluding, “One alone, a dyad, more, many, a society of dancers are we.” Any self-respecting Cornellian, after hearing this, would have run home and filled out a transfer request. The absence of backlash, though, tells us that it may be too late. Golden Boy Skorton has officially brainwashed Cornell, one friend request at a time. IvyGate is now officially skeptical.

BREAKING: Skorton Ice Cream Delicious

BREAKING: Skorton Ice Cream Delicious
It’s the update we’ve been waiting for all day! A Cornell tipster fresh from David Skorton’s inauguration day festivities — which includes the new university president’s own flavor of ice cream — breathlessly emails:

Date: Sept. 7, 2006 5:56 p.m.
Subject: banana-berry skorton ice cream

Ahh, Skorton Berry ice cream. It’s filled with chocolate chunks and fruity syrup. The taste of Iowa, secular humanism and Banana. It got the official seal of approval from Skorton’s wife, and it is pretty tasty.

Skorton Braves Hipster Jungle, Forgets “Iron Chef” T-Shirt

Skorton Braves Hipster Jungle, Forgets "Iron Chef" T-ShirtCornell Cornell President David J. Skorton has, if nothing else, huge balls. First he sleeps among the unwashed fresh-masses, now he ventures off into the drug-doing, brow-piercing, Morcheeba-listening, God-hating, cross-dressed (but otherwise naked) den of iniquity that is Risley Hall.

Our undercover Cornellespondents tell us that Skorton and his wife, Robin L. Davisson, dined chez Risley last night. When they entered the dining hall, one student reportedly sprung up from his table and gushed over Ms. Davisson: “You’re beautiful! You make Jackie Onassis look like a crack whore!” (Kind words, but you be the judge.)

They then proceeded to eat dinner as ironically as possible.

Year of the College Blog: Off to a Bad Start

Year of the College Blog: Off to a Bad StartGod damn it. Why does Cornell always have to ruin the party? We announce the Year of the College Blog, then they go and introduce this … this … Student Blogging Project.

Basically, the school pays students to write two entries a week about life at Cornell in exchange for $50 a month in gift certificates. Plenty of kids do this for free already (please click on our Google ads dear God just once please) for a readership of one. Getting published on Cornell’s website + ca$h money = good deal, right?

Read the fine print:

– “[B]ecause these blogs are highly visible, you will be expected to be intelligent about both the approach to and the crafting of your posts with regard to subject matter, language, and tone.” And if you’re short on ideas, just copy and paste student testimonials from the Cornell brochure. Blogging is good, clean fun!

– “[Y]our blogs will likely be visited by members of the Senior Administration at the university; all of whom are people not known for being shy when expressing their opinions. Rest assured that you will be spoken to if you stray across the line.” So, who’s gonna be the sacrificial blogger to cross the line and reveal its location for everyone else? Oh fine, we’ll do it: We Eiffel Towered President Skorton’s mom! In the gorge! You know where to find us, Skorton!

– Among the Project’s goals: “Share the Cornell story with the world.” Wait, you mean this Cornell story? Or the one about Eiffel Towering President Skorton’s mom in the gorge?

So the Project will be like a campus tour in blog form. Look forward to entries on chem problem sets, soda pong tournaments, and the occasional dessert wine. How authentic! For the future: if we ever sign up to be “student voices” for our authorized school blog, you, reader, have our permission to kill us.