Every day, on my walk from North Campus (where freshmen live) to Central, I cross over the Thurston Avenue Bridge. While I’m greeted with a phenomenal view of a waterfall (seriously…how many students can say that they pass a waterfall on the way to class?!), I’m also consistently reminded of the tragic suicides that took place last year.I’ve noticed that there’s definitely been a whole lot of buzz about the issue. From “Ithaca is Fences” bumper stickers to articles in the Cornell Sun, it’s pretty obvious that Cornellians are riled up about the issue and have some differing beliefs on whether the fences should be in place or not.
Personally, I think the fences are a necessary evil: as horrible as the memories and ideas they conjure up are, the university simply did not have a choice after the multiple suicides last year. My belief is that if they save save one life–and stop one person from making an impulsive move that could end their life and drastically affect the lives of those close to them–they are entirely worth it.
However, I could definitely see the beliefs that opponents have. What kind of message does this send to prospective students? Welcome to Cornell, the school that actually has to put up physical barriers to prevent its’ students from committing suicide?
I also think that, to an extent, this issue has been exaggerated because the American news media are businesses: they try to sell stories to consumers. When you have articles like this published which state that “3 students plunge to death in campus gorges in past month,” it’s a heck of a lot more attention-grabbing than other forms of suicide, or other news stories in general. If the media would stop perpetuating the stereotype of Cornell being a suicide school, and perhaps focus on other, happier stories (like this Hotelie who sponsors proms for kids with life-threatening illnesses), we would be in a much better place.
The bottom line is that every member of the Cornell community wants the best for everyone…it’s just the methods of achieving that goal are not without controversy.