Any person.
Any study.
Any Cornelliana.

An alumni
blog about Ezra's
University. (more)


Suggestions? Tips?




[+] Cornell News

[+] Higher Ed News

[+] Campus Pubs

[+] Alumni Interest

[+] Diversions

[+] Blogs

[+] Sports

[+] Other Places


[+] By Month

[+] By Author

A Slippery Issue

So the Cornell Alumni Magazine has come out with their big article addressing the issue of the recent gorge drownings, gorge safety and gorge policy, and yours truly makes a guest appearance:

The task force's most visible action has been erecting a chain-link fence, about thirty feet long and eight feet high, blocking access to the pool via a steep stone staircase from the Phi Gamma Delta parking lot off McGraw Place. Simeon Moss '73, BA '82, Cornell's press relations director, calls the fence a short-term fix while a more effective safety campaign is worked out. Although some have welcomed the fence, others have criticized it as ineffectual.

Matthew Nagowski '05 calls it "draconian and naïve," and the homepage of his blog, MetaEzra.com, sports a banner calling on President David Skorton to take down the fence. "Is the University going to put up a fence around Cayuga Lake?" Nagowski asks. "It seems like the proper solution to this problem is education and enforcement, not forbidding people to enjoy one of the University's most treasured natural places." Professor emeritus of geological sciences Arthur Bloom agrees that restricting access is neither feasible nor desirable, pointing out that the gorges provide a valuable teaching tool. "There are all sorts of interesting phenomena, and you can literally get your nose right up against them.":

Well, I have at least one faculty member on my side.

Kelley's article features some rather grim quotes from the scuba diver who recovered Lowe's body. And in all, it's an excellent article, not in the least because I am quoted in it.

We learn, for instance, that not one fine has been issued for gorge swimming in a very long time:

Over the past few years, the Ithaca Police Department has stepped up its focus on the problem—although not the number of actual arrests. It issued four tickets for gorge swimming in 2004 and 2005; but from 2007 through June 2008, it issued twenty-eight warnings, in which offenders are identified but face no punishment. City and campus police departments are now exploring ways to collaborate on enforcing the code—and, if the University agrees, upping the punishment to include academic penalties. Many students would welcome more enforcement, says Student Assembly (SA) president Ryan Lavin '09. "If there's some enforcement—cite or ticket once in a while—it will deter the bulk from going in."

That said, I believe academic penalties would be a little bit harsh. But certainly ticketing gorge swimmers should be a higher priority for the police than ticketing house parties that nobody has bothered to call in about?

And we also get word that the University is also taking a proactive role, considering the creation of some outdoor swimming areas on campus:

The task force is also brainstorming alternatives to gorge swimming. They include providing free shuttles to nearby state parks where swimming is allowed, like Buttermilk Falls and Lower Treman; designating safe swimming areas in the city's natural waters (and amending the city code to make those areas legal); and building an outdoor pool on campus. Perhaps the most drastic option is filling the Fall Creek pool with boulders or other materials.

Does anybody else think that a regulated swimming hole in Beebe Lake might be the way to go?

But I would wager a bet that students will continue to enjoy the gorges for years to come, freely aware that they do so at their own peril.

N.B. Tomorrow will coincidentally be the 100th day of the banner beseeching Skorton to take the Fall Creek fence down. We'll retire it at that point.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on November 17, 2008 (#)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Other Recent Posts

-- WSJ: Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (EBilmes)

-- Barrier Update: City Approves Nets (DJost)

-- Big Red Cymbal Guy (Nagowski)

-- New York Times Survey on Campus Recruiting is Flawed (KScott)

-- Barrier Update: Legal precedent suggests City of Ithaca will not be held liable for gorge suicide (DJost)

-- Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey (EBilmes)

-- City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets (DJost)

-- An Encounter on the Upper East Side (Nagowski)

-- Showing Off Your School Spirit (Nagowski)

-- Chipotle Ithaca? (KScott)

-- Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon (KScott)

-- Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus (KScott)

-- Milstein's Downfall (Nagowski)

-- Can any Cornell-associated organization really be independent of the University? (Nagowski)

-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

-- Slope Media Group Approved for Byline Funding (KScott)

-- Occupy AEM? (KScott)

-- New campus pub to be good for both Greeks and non-Greeks (Nagowski)

-- Gagging the Election (Nagowski)

-- The Changing Structure of Rush Week (Nagowski)

-- Ivy League Humility in the Midwest (EBilmes)

-- Of Median Grades and Economics Minors (Nagowski)

-- Homecoming Recap (Nagowski)

-- My Cornell Bookshelf (Nagowski)

-- The Sun's Opinion Section Has Suddenly Gotten Good (Nagowski)

-- Remembering the 11th (Nagowski)

-- Cornellian Tapped as Top Economic Advisor (Nagowski)

-- Cutting Pledging, and the Good Which Comes With It (EBilmes)

-- Why Cornell Should Not Close Fall Creek Gorge (Nagowski)

-- Welcome to the Class of 2015 (Nagowski)