Student Activists Respond to President Skorton

In Monday’s From David column, President Skorton lamented the lack of political participation among students, imploring every Cornellian to “get active, stay active!” Such verbal encouragement is to be applauded. Yet what went unsaid is that student activism will only flourish when students feel that their voices are heard by the administration.  President Skorton’s actions in response to student pressure around Nike and the DREAM Act are commendable.  However, there is more President Skorton can do to create the engaged environment he seeks.

Cornell Students Against Sweatshops (CSAS) is currently running a campaign to cut Cornell’s ties with the Fair Labor Association (FLA).  The FLA is a watchdog organization that, in theory, ensures university apparel is made in factories with good working conditions.  But the FLA has failed miserably, and has often actively defended companies that were found to be major rights abusers (such as Nike and Russell Athletic).  This is the exact sort of campaign President Skorton encourages students to engage in: a local issue with global implications. Yet CSAS sent a delegation to President Skorton’s office a month ago and has received no response.

Sadly, this is not the only time President Skorton has halted student activism.  The Student Assembly passed a resolution calling for Cornell to divest from companies that use conflict minerals, but President Skorton denied it, deferring any action.  The Cornell Organization for Labor Action (COLA) has been working with Svante Myrick ‘09 and Eddie Rooker ’09 for three years to make Ithaca’s uniforms sweatshop-free, but President Skorton has yet topublicly support the bill.  Last year, the Immigrant Farmworker Initiative (IFI) and MEChA worked together to get President Skorton to publicly support the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act and the DREAM Act, yet he failed to release a statement about the Farmworker bill.

An active student body is enhanced by an administration that is responsive and equally active. We whole-heartedly agree that students must take a more active role in changing the world around them.  But will President Skorton take sufficient action to foster its growth on campus? As activists know, actions speak louder than words.

By: Cornell Students Against Sweatshops
Cornell Organization for Labor Action
Half in Ten
Conflict-Free Cornell
Take Back the Tap
Sustainability Hub
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán
Asian Pacific Americans for Action
Black Students United

President Skorton looking nervous about student activism

President Skorton looking nervous about student activism

About the Author

Alex Bores is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He was born and raised in New York City by two union members. Alex does labor research with Professor Kate Bronfenbrenner. Alex is the treasurer of the Cornell Roosevelt Institute, Treasurer of Conflict-Free Cornell, Vice President for Community Outreach of Half in Ten, Vice President of the Cornell Forensics Society and President of Cornell Students Against Sweatshops.