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Considering the Gorge Fences

I've purposefully refrained from commenting on the fences that have been erected along the bridges. To say they're depressing in an understatement, but I've grudgingly come to accept them as a stop-gap measure due to the absolutely horrific contagion that appeared to be developing on campus. We all know that these were fluke occurrences and that Cornell's only suicide problem is the one in the national media, but something clearly had to be done.

I'm certain I would think differently if I was still a student. Hell, I thought differently about much more minor fences two years ago.

Here's a stark picture from Elie. It pulls no punches. For anybody who has fond memories of walking over the Suspension Bridge it is like a knife in the heart:

Two items strike me as a bit excessive through all of this: The first is that there appears to be wire running along the top of fences. As if ten-foot high fences weren't enough to tell a would-be jumper that the University would really rather not have you jump over the bridge. The second is that the Administration also happened to fence in the old trolley bridge over Cascadilla Creek that runs to the Engineering Quad, a bit excessive if you ask me -- most falls from that height would not be lethal.

At the end of the day, though, the fences reflect an unacceptably reactive compromise of the enduring Cornell tradition of Freedom and Responsibility, and ten-foot high fences are not a long-term solution.

I've already offered some more pro-active reforms the University could take to develop a more caring community, but it's also encouraging to see that students have taken it into their own hands to make the University think creatively about how to create more aesthetically pleasing bridge barriers:

Ideas can be submitted to rethinkthefence@gmail.com

May I suggest at least one covered bridge?

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on April 04, 2010 (#)

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