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Kisselstein and Law to serve on Presidential Task Force

-Magdalen Lindeberg

SIPS graduate students Breanne Kisselstein and Eugene Law are among 36 students, staff, and faculty in the Cornell community recommended to serve on the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate.

The task force is composed of three sub-committees, with Kisselstein and Law assigned to the Campus Experience. Areas subject to review and recommendations by this sub-committee relate to inclusiveness, with specific emphasis on evaluating existing resources and identification of new resources that might further enhance inclusion.

Kisselstein is a graduate student with David Gadoury and Lance Cadle-Davidson in the SIPS Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, researching molecular markers in grape powdery mildew. She is co-chair of the Student Advocacy Committee which provides her with a window on issues currently relevant to graduate and professional students.

Law, a graduate student with Toni DiTommaso and Matt Ryan in the SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section, researches cropping systems for perennial grains. He has been active in a number of campus organizations involved in social justice.

Kisselstein and Law were nominated for the task force by the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement’s (OISE) Student Leadership Council. Their commitment to the mission of the task force is clearly evident from their application statements:

Breanne Kisselstein, graduate student in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology

I am a DeafBlind woman in STEM so I understand the experiences of those in oppressed minority groups and hope that I could serve the Task Force with my ideas and time to help find real-world solutions to issues of bias here at Cornell. I also reflect on how in the aftermath of the black civil rights movement, they supported and loaned banners to the Deaf civil rights movement during the Deaf President Now student protests at Gallaudet University in 1988. As a white person who was raised alongside black siblings, I saw the daily injustices that they have to face from a very young age here in America. My only hope is that Cornell University can be a light on the hill, an example for others to follow. Cornell University should be a place for all people of marginalized groups to feel safe and welcome to study and follow their dreams.

-Breanne Kisselstein

Eugene Law, graduate student in Soil and Crop Sciences

I believe in social justice and I think that Cornell is deficient in many ways when it comes to promoting dignity, respect, and equity for all members of our community. My biggest hope for the Task Force is that it doesn’t simply focus on how to prevent or respond to individual bias incidents (i.e. discrete instances of racism, sexism, ableism, queerantagonism, etc.), but that we are able to consider and make recommendations to address structural and institutional forms of marginalization and oppression that are ultimately the root cause of the explosive public incidents this semester that prompted President Pollack to form the Task Force. I also hope that dialogue and actions taken to address the campus climate issues that we face are not limited to the timeline laid out for the Task Force.

-Eugene Law

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