RENEE ALEXANDER: This is Renee Alexander, Associate Dean of Students for Intercultural Programs and proud Cornell alumna. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Intelligence plus character is the goal of true education." Character reflects the values we cherish and espouse-- integrity, courage, humanity, justice, humility, transcendence. As our students develop, evolve, and grow, so too does our institution.
Institutional character matters. And the 21st century Cornell we envision, as reflected in our students' narratives, embraces, empowers, and uplifts the multiplicity of identities, cultures, and worldviews that comprise the student experience. Welcome to the spectrum of Cornell.
ADAM SHELEPAK: We all come to Cornell. We all come to life with our own preconceived notions, our own biases, our own implicit ways we view other people and experiences. When those three things really come together, we will drive better outcomes-- for me personally, for everyone involved, all the stakeholders.
JULIA MONTEJO: So I think, for me, equity means that everyone has not just an equal chance, but is given the appropriate considerations for their differences.
JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN: Diversity Is something really special because you're bringing together people from all different backgrounds, different perspectives, different majors, and different social identities. Seeing that my voice, as a person with a disability and a community that means a lot to me, that that's respected and that's valued-- to me, that's the critical part of that.
KYONNE ROWE: Inclusion, we're talking about the equitable approaches that we use to make sure that diverse populations feel as though there are diverse solutions to our world's biggest problems.
DUSTIN LIU: You come to a campus like Cornell and you are building this diverse, robust, multifaceted community and you need these building blocks. To me, those three words are the building blocks of community.
AMBER ASPINALL: Well, Cornell does not exist in a bubble. Any difficulties that I face in the outside world, so to say, are the same difficulties I face on Cornell's campus. And when you talk about standing at the intersection of multiple marginalized communities, you're talking about complexity and you're talking about an experience that is very difficult to navigate. So for me, the first thing that comes to mind is it's complicated.
YAMANI BHANDARI: When I got into Cornell, the first person who congratulated me simultaneously also said that I had only gotten in because I was a woman. Kind of demoralizes you from even wanting to engage with the broader Cornell community, if you think that people only feel like you're here to represent some identity and not for the academic merit that you bring.
SAADAT BADRUDDIN: If I'm not comfortable expressing my background as a Muslim, if I'm not comfortable expressing where I came from and who my parents were and my lineage, then I won't have that same opportunity to learn from others. And I feel as though that's the single most important thing that you can get from on campus. It's not in class, it's not the things that you can learn in books, but it's that interpersonal connection. It's being able to understand where people are coming from and how that relates to you and what you can change about your perspective.
JULIA MONTEJO: Talking about your documentation status is something that we're often taught to not talk about because it's so marginalized and criminalized in media. I've gotten threats in comments on The Daily Sun. I've been told by people that, why haven't I tried harder to become documented? And there's a lot of lash back that I get all the time. Du Bois once asked, "How does it feel to be a problem?" And I feel like a problem every single day because I technically am not allowed to be here.
DUSTIN LIU: I'm a Taiwanese American homosexual male. And I think a lot of really speaks to intersectionalism.
HADAR SACHS: I think that having a huge mansion just off campus in Cayuga Heights makes you very powerful. It makes you have a safe, beautiful home to live in. And even just that aspect of certain groups having established a long legacy of a structure of something physical that they can relate to their status on campus, I see that as such a huge difference between different groups on campus.
EDDY CRUZ: So a challenge we face as multicultural groups at Cornell is continuously being denied spaces. And one instance, one of our organizations actually booked two rooms. In case we got denied one, we would have one as a backup. And in fact, what occurred was that we were denied both rooms. And we checked during that day and at that time to see if the rooms were occupied and they were both vacant. I think it is extremely important that we listen to students on campus, since we are the ones navigating campus throughout everyday life and also living it and being here all the time.
DUSTIN LIU: It's hard to be a full-time student and also fighting for changes like gender inclusive bathrooms, fighting for tampons in bathrooms, things that are essential to our well-being that aren't being afforded to us by the university. So I think it's time for administrators and it's time for those who are here to help us create a college environment, really create a place where we can grow and thrive.
KYONNE ROWE: My biggest obstacle is around people not seeing the reason to collaborate, not seeing the reason to consolidate. Sometimes we limit the access to our work by working in silos. So my hope is that all the work that takes place on this campus would be around partnership so that we're opening up and broadening the access to the work.
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Every year Cornell's undergraduate community becomes more diverse than the year before, as reflected in the compositional structure of our incoming class: race, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability. While demographic diversity is an ongoing priority, our focus becomes equity and inclusion. Do all community members feel a sense of ownership and belonging? Are collaboration, mutual respect, and an appreciation of diverse backgrounds and points of view embedded in our values and campus culture? This video captures students' experiences, challenges and aspirations.
Featured: Amber Aspinall, ILR '17; Saadat Badruddin, CALS '17; Yamini Bhandari, ILR '17; Eddy Cruz '17; Jonathan Goldstein, ILR '17; Dustin Liu, ILR '19; Julia Montejo, AS '17; Kyonne Rowe, ILR '18; Hadar Sachs, AAP '17; and Adam Shelepak, AS '17.