Would you like to help make Cornell a
more inclusive, accountable, and democratic
institution? Do you want a connection to Cornell that goes
beyond donating money and cheerleading the alma mater? To continue to
have an impact on campus issues even though you may be thousands of
miles and many years removed? Support campus activists in their
struggles? Meet other progressively-minded
Cornellians spanning the generations, from all over the world?
The United Progressive Alumni may be just what you're looking for.
UPA was founded to provide
alums with an organization to support and foster progressive
values in alumni and campus activities, and establish a
meaningful link to Cornell that doesn't sacrifice principle for the
mere sake of increasing the endowment. We desire the continuous
transformation of Cornell into a more democratic, fair, responsible,
and inclusive institution, so that it may best fulfill the purpose of
developing an educated and concerned
While UPA's projects will be formulated
democratically by our members on an open and continual basis, here are some of
the issues in which we plan to engage:
- As the largest employer in Tompkins County, Cornell has a community
obligation to pay its employees a living wage,
thus setting a baseline and important example for the rest of the County's
- With a large endowment comes an ethical imperative to use this money
responsibly. Cornell must take a careful look at the way it invests
endowment funds, by investing
in socially-responsible businesses, and by using its
clout as a significant shareholder to press
for corporate accountability.
- Given the inevitable impact Cornell's operation has on the surrounding
environment, Cornell should provide the Ithaca community with access
to all information regarding the environmental
impact that the University has on its surroundings and whenever
feasible minimize or eliminate damage to the environment.
- In order to remain accessible to students from all economic backgrounds,
the policy of needs-blind admissions
must be supported and maintained.
- In the face of the national attacks on affirmative action, Cornell
should preserve and strengthen its commitment
to diversity, increasing representation of ethnic minorities
among students, faculty and staff.
- To provide an environment where students can truly pursue instruction
in any study in peace and safety, Cornell needs to identify
and combat forms of oppression on campus (racism, sexism,
- To enhance the quality of undergraduate education, Cornell should
reward quality teaching with raises
and improved tenure possibilities.
- Given the increasing prevalence of corporate/university partnerships,
Cornell must make public its own ties to corporations.
We do not wish to have Cornell's resources made available as cheap R&D
for corporations. We find it unacceptable for corporations to reap private
profits from publicly-supported research, nor do we wish corporate interests
to corrupt and displace academic integrity and freedom.
How will UPA do it?
As our organization grows, we will work on the
above issues by:
- Forming local chapters to provide
a sense of community and solidarity for progressive grads and facilitate
involvement in local issues.
- Supporting student activist groups
on campus with petitions, letters and calls of support to campus decision-makers,
and sharing expertise, information, and resources whenever and however
- Establishing a web page (you're lookin' at it) and listserv for publicity and
- Providing small grants to campus groups to promote progressive activism.
For example, the campus is sorely in need of a progressive newspaper.
- Lobbying administrators and the
Board of Trustees directly on issues of importance to us.
- Establishing an alternative "endowment" fund
for our contributions to provide progressive alumni the financial clout
to gain the attention of Cornell's leaders.
- Working with the media, through press releases and personal contacts,
to inform both the wider Cornell community and the general public about
- Publishing a regular newsletter
that disseminates information and provides opportunities for action.
- Sponsoring conferences, meetings, or symposia to provide a progressive
view on campus issues.
- Providing apprenticeship opportunities, mentors, etc. for students
interested in activism after graduation.
We hope to accomplish all of the above while
retaining a sense of humor, not taking ourselves too seriously, and having fun
doing work that's meaningful to us.
As you can see, we have an ambitious agenda, and it
won't be successful without the energy,
dedication, and hard work of many of us striving together. When
you join UPA, you're adding your voice to ours, strengthening our
network in these turbulent times, and establishing an enduring
progressive legacy at Cornell for years to come. And UPA is not
limited to Cornell issues; future projects are
constrained only by the interests, imagination, and resourcefulness of
UPA is ultimately about
connecting with one another for both campus and larger issues to
revitalize our sense of civic duty and democracy - traits badly
needed to create a meaningful world for ourselves and future
I would like to join UPA!
Sounds good, but I'd like to get in
touch with UPA first.
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