The following is an article featured in our Fall 2016 Print Magazine
Look out for copies being distributed all across campus in the coming days!
Like many high school students waiting for the day my AP classes would pay off, I dreamed of a college experience that including tailgating before football games and a school known across the country for its dedicated fans. School spirit was high on my list, so naturally the last place I pictured myself at was Cornell. Still, if the number of students wearing Cornell apparel on any given day is any indication of how much spirit there is at this school, it does not appear to be lacking.
Although there are very few occasions when we all sit in the same stadium, uniting around something so tangible, we somehow still feel a strong sense of unity, pride, and connection to other Cornellians, past and present. What is it that is able to unite the 22,000 Cornellians who come from all 50 states, from 120 different countries, studying 80 different subjects (yes, I paid attention during the information session)?
Most Cornellians attend a total of four football games in their entire Cornell career, and they’re all Homecoming games. Not only that, but it’s unclear whether or not they actually go to the game, as a lot of people just go for the tailgate barbeque before heading back to pass out. Nevertheless, for that single game, the stadium is full, rain or shine, of alumni, students, and staff who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Between Homecoming and hockey games, we get a taste of over-the-top, rowdy sporting events. It is there if you want it, but it is not all this school has to offer.
But really, what makes us endure the -10 degree weather, the aggressive onslaught of prelims, and the dreaded walks up the slope? We all chose to be here, and we are united in our tenacity in overcoming all of the challenges that Cornell brings, and we love to complain. The people sitting next to us in class become friends over angsty conversations the blizzard going on outside and our mutual feeling of unpreparedness for the prelim we are about to take. Complaining about the workload gives you an instant way to relate with another student, no matter where they are from or what exactly they are studying. Misery loves company, and Cornellians love to be miserable together. So in an apparent paradox, we love this school so much because it makes us suffer, but at least this gives us something to unite over.
On a lighter note, Cornell actually is fun sometimes. When there is some miraculous break in the relentless work, there are endless ways to spend your precious time. Some of my favorite days at Cornell have been the ones when I pulled myself away from Olin to sit on the slope with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while, or took a spontaneous trip to the gorges, or stuffed my face with mac and cheese and cider donuts at Applefest. The best moments happen in all those times when you know you should probably be working, but you choose to relax and enjoy Ithaca instead. You only need to go to ClubFest to know that there are infinite ways to spend time here. So, maybe we unite over our feeling of gratitude that we get to spend four years in this quirky, lively place, more than in our pride in one
We all leave here with a shared experience. It can’t quite be put into words, but it will be understood by every Cornell alumni that you will meet in the future: an instant connection that might come out in a common memory of living on north campus as a freshman, a shared appreciation for the variety of Ithaca restaurants, or a mutual appreciation for any of the experiences that Cornell made possible. Other people might look at Cornell and see a lot of different things: a school in the middle of nowhere where there’s nothing but snow, a school with a rigorous academic curriculum, or a school with unenthusiastic sports fans. But we all know that Cornell is so much more than that, a place where people can share in school pride whether you are an avid sports fan or not.
Read this article and more in our Fall ’16 Print Magazine, being distributed across campus now!