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November 2011

Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey

Cornell fans are still pondering the what-ifs from Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss at Madison Square Garden. It was tough to score three times and have only one goal count. One possible goal was disallowed because the net came off its moorings just a second earlier. The other apparent goal, coming with the game tied 1-1 with 4 minutes remaining, did not count because the play was whistled dead while the puck was in the air. Meanwhile, with B.U. scoring on a lengthy 5x3 opportunity, it was tough to say that the game was decided by the players on the ice and not the officials.

Two years ago at MSG, I broke my watch in a moment of frustration after I slammed my hand on the seat in front of me. This year, as a more mature alumnus, I was a little better at controlling my behavior.

In fact, I was encouraged by what I saw. After seeing 82 of 85 games during my last couple of years on the hill, I've seen three over the last two seasons. And this year's team is strikingly different from those of the last few years.

First, we have an incredible freshman class. Brian Ferlin and Joel Lowry have serious offensive talent and will only get better throughout the season, as will Joakim Ryan, a skilled puckhandling defenseman.

Sophomore goaltender (and Ithaca native) Andy Iles, despite his struggles over the first few games, has become a reliable presence in net. It seems that Iles will continue the fine tradition of Cornell goalies before him who positioned their teams for deep postseason runs: David Leneveu, David McKee, Ben Scrivens.

Most incredibly, this Cornell team looks like they want to score goals, and Coach Schafer is letting them. In previous years, we have tended to enter the offensive zone in one of two ways. Our forwards have gone up the boards, taking hits, and trying to get the puck deep. Or, we have opted for dump-and-chase, relying on our physical play to win battles along the corners. This year, however, Cornell skaters are looking to make ambitious passes to get the puck through the neutral zone. They are skating through defenders stacked along the blue line and getting good looks at the net from decent angles. Cornell is a faster team, and it was exciting to watch on Saturday. In fact, one alumna who has seen several games this season told me that the team has looked even faster in other games.

In previous years, Cornell's speedier players seemed out of place in the plodding Big Red Machine. Small, fast-skating and offensive-minded Tony Romano lasted one year. Riley Nash lasted three, and Schafer struggled to put him on a line with people who could keep up with his style of play.

This year, however, the team seems more cohesive. Ryan can move the puck up the ice and feed to other quick forwards. I am impressed with how much juniors John Esposito and Erik Axell have improved, and they fit into the new system as well.

As others have noted in online discussions, Cornell's defense comes together by the end of each season. Assuming that happens, and the offense continues to produce, and the freshmen continue to get better, there is reason to believe the team can win the ECAC championship this spring. After all, they have already beaten Yale.

I look forward to seeing the Big Red again down in Florida, where they will have the opportunity to pick up significant wins against non-conference competition.

Elie Bilmes | November 30, 2011 (#)

City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets

A front page editorial in the Cornell Daily Sun yesterday seemed to state that the Ithaca Common Council will be holding a “special meeting” today for a final vote on Cornell’s proposed suicide nets and fencing. However, Councilwoman Ellen McCollister says the writer was mistaken.

She says the council will not be voting today. It will be meeting today to discuss the terms of their agreement with Cornell, which has stated it is willing to take on responsibility for the nets' construction and maintenance and indemnify the city against lawsuits that may occur if jumpers are injured in the nets.

McCollister says there will be another chance for public comment before the final vote at their regular council meeting on December 7th.

Dan Jost | November 30, 2011 (#)

An Encounter on the Upper East Side

We were turned away by the crowds at Stout, so after the game we headed to Brother Jimmies to reminisce and rekindle some more old friendships and perhaps make some new. The memories of both the loss and our yesteryears on East Hill were still raw, but the beer was crisp and the lines at the little boy's room short. Commented one friend: "You should really drink more often."

By one o'clock in the morning, it was time for me to call in the towel and head back to the Upper East Side, where I was spending the night.

I hailed a cab and zipped past Times Square, circling around Columbus, and through the Park. While I'm a New Yorker by strict definition, but I'm not a New Yorker in any true sense of the word. Yet I know enough about the city that I know that New York can exhilarate you in its history, its money, its power. It can out-hustle you on your best day and keep on taking when you thought you had nothing left to give. But it can also envelop you, when least expected, in a knowing intimacy or a serendipitous catharsis. The latter of which was in store for me that night.

I instructed the cab driver to drop me off early, on First Avenue, so I could grab a bite to eat before strolling the final block back to my waiting couch. The pizza place looked promising enough; it was no Gepetto's but it would have to do. A slice of whole grain spinach and mozzarella was ordered, heated, and began to be consumed.

Mid-pizza and mid-bite, I was interrupted by a girl who drunkenly blurted out a most obvious question: "Do you go to Cornell?" Given that I was still wearing more Cornell hockey hoodie and my Cornell hockey toque (this in an unseasonably warm last-weekend of November), I answered that I most certainly was an alumnus, but I graduated a couple of generations ago.

She then asked me if I attended the game at Madison Square Garden.

Either the pope is no longer Catholic or Cornell admissions standards have gotten a bit relaxed.

It turns out that my overzealous inquisitor was a freshman Human Development major. She had not attended the game that night instead opting for "a night out". (But what do you think the Big Red Hockey team and 15,000 other Cornellians make for, darling?) And upon my further questioning, I discovered that she had not yet attended a hockey game at Lynah. Full stop.

Once we've recovered from such sacrilege, I'll turn to my next inquisitor, her friend, Nick, who jumped in to ask me what I did for a living and whether or not I was in a fraternity. Nick quickly told me he was in Arts and Sciences but thinking of transferring to the Dyson School.

Note at this point so far there was no inquiry into whether or not the team in Carnelian and White won the aforementioned game at the Garden.

Nick, coincidentally, was wearing a soccer scarf for Barcelona. I asked him why he was supporting a European soccer team over our beloved Big Red. He had no answer. I asked him why he wasn't at the game that night. No answer.

I sighed. I asked him if he knew the Alma Mater. Now his eyes got big.

"I mean, I think they've played that song on campus," he said, "but I don't know it."

"And nobody ever taught it to me." It was his final excuse.

At this point in the night I had had enough price-gouged New York beers to work up the gall to lecture a little bit. I started, as if quoting Wikipedia, "It's one of the best known collegiate songs in the country," and went on from there. I finished a couple of books of Cornelliana later, concluding with my oft-quipped mantra that a true Cornell education is one that you seek out on your own.:

"But I'm certain you know the tune. And you'll help me sing it."

And so I sang the Alma Mater, swaying with Nick the freshman who stumbled along to the lyrics.

Cornell won in spirit.

Matthew Nagowski | November 28, 2011 (#)

Showing Off Your School Spirit

So I'm off to New York City this weekend to do one of those 161 things that every Cornell alumnus must do: attend a Cornell hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Given the limited number of times I've visited Manhattan, I'm pretty excited for the trip. I've never been to MSG before. And what better way to spend Thanksgiving weekend than with one's Big Red family?

It's also an exciting trip because the No. 17 Big Red Hockey team is playing some of its best hockey in recent years, being on a five game winning streak, the last three being shutouts. I hear that they're thinking of legally changing Andy Iles's name to either Ben Scrivens or David McKee. But unlike McKee, let's hope that Iles decides to spend all four of his years on East Hill.

At any rate, tomorrow night at the Garden I'll be proudly sporting my Men's Ice Hockey toque, as well as some IvySport merchandise -- a men's ice hockey hoodie and a nifty vintage style soft knit t-shirt. IvySport has been a longtime advertiser on MetaEzra, and they're our go-to retailer for all Cornell apparel. Except for the elusive Cornell blazer, that is.

I'll likely be tweeting a bit at the Garden tomorrow night, so stay posted for live updates. Let's Go Red!

Matthew Nagowski | November 25, 2011 (#)

Chipotle Ithaca?

What a great idea.

I’ve only discovered the deliciousness of Chipotle after moving to New York City this past August, as all we’ve really had in Ithaca for faux Mexican food cravings is Moe’s Southwest Grill. Yes, perhaps there is That Burrito Place (known in the alphabet soup of popular Collegetown eateries as TBP), but it pales in comparison. Taco Bell on Elmira Road just doesn’t count. Considering there are no Moe’s restaurants in New York City, I’m not sure how the opening of Chipotle will affect the Mexican food business in Ithaca. Is there enough demand to viably support both?

The imminent opening of a Chipotle seems to be part of a larger trend of corporate influence in the traditionally local-focused Ithaca market. The initial push started with the 2004 construction of South Meadow Square, which opened with Wal-Mart, Lowe's Home Improvement, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. The whole area has since grown, adding some smaller national shops such as Verizon Wireless, Aspen Dental, and Moe’s Southwest Grill. Last year, Ithaca was graced with its first Panera Bread, and now in early 2012 Chipotle will be opening.

These national stores provide valuable products and services that smaller mom and pop businesses cannot for the same price. But, part of the Ithaca charm is its small town, small business feel. My favorite places in Ithaca – and the places for which I feel the most sentimental – are those owned and operated by the so-called Townies. Ithaca is Ithaca because of these unique spots.

So, Chipotle Ithaca? What a great idea. Sort of. My mouth says yes, but I’d rather see a local develop a fast casual competitor to Moe’s.

P.S. – Chipotle ProTip: Order the off-the-menu chicken quesadilla. It’s the best thing they have.

Kyle Scott | November 18, 2011 (#)

Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon

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I was fortunate last Sunday to join Cornell alumni at the 25th mile water station at the ING New York City Marathon. I was supposed to see some other 2011 graduates at the event, but ended up not. I instead made some new friends with the people around me. There was David from the late 1990s, who was there because he was training for a marathon himself and wanted to help out at this one. There was a middle-aged couple whose son was a freshman at Cornell. There was a woman who graduated in the mid-2000s there to watch her friends run past. I was there because it seemed like an awesome way to spend a Sunday morning and to be part of an event that I’ve been watching on TV since I was very young. Like many things Cornell-related, it was an opportunity for many people to come together for different reasons for a common cause. The marathon was a pleasant reminder of the strength of the Cornell alumni network and how well represented we are within the NYC community.

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Kyle Scott | November 13, 2011 (#)

Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus

The recent Daily Sun article about WVBR’s relationship with Cornell raises a much larger issue about commercial activity on campus. While this issue is at the heart of the Cornell’s relationship with WVBR, a serious question the university needs to consider on a larger scale is where is draws the line in general in preventing and allowing so-called “commercial activity” from taking place.

Cornell has a general policy against independent businesses engaging in “commercial activity” on Cornell property. This makes sense. Commercial activity can be disruptive to the learning process and, although I’m not a lawyer, I’m told it endangers Cornell’s tax-exempt status. Last year, Gutenberger explained to me that commercial activity includes any advertising or attempts at selling/promoting on campus. Independent entities can be contracted out to perform a service for the university, but in performing that service, the entity cannot solicit calls to action. For example, the Ithaca Bakery may provide catering at an on-campus event but cannot suggest to dinner guests to try a new food item available at its Collegetown location. According to Gutenberger, local, regional, and national businesses alike want to reach the Cornell student population, and the university would be overrun by salespeople pushing their wares if these businesses were allowed on campus.

This policy would be acceptable and fair if it were evenly applied to all organizations that either exist on or come onto campus. I understand why Cornell does not want to turn Ho Plaza into a bazaar. The problem, though, is that the policy is not evenly applied, and in some cases, it is egregiously ignored. This brings me to Slope Media and Matt Nagowski ‘05’s recent post .

Make no mistake: I am not out to get Slope Media. I deeply respect the organization’s meteoric rise to campus prominence, which I discussed in a previous post . However, I am concerned that Cornell is inconsistently applying its “no commercial activity” policy when it comes to student-run media and is creating a situation where it favors the commercial activities of one organization to the detriment of others.

Kyle Scott | November 05, 2011 (#)

Milstein's Downfall

One of the myriad recent issues I've been negligent in chatting about on MetaEzra has been the opening of Milstein Hall. Luckily this brilliant (student-created?) parody of Hitler's Downfall says most of the things I would like to say about the building:

Milstein's Downfall from maestro on Vimeo.

Having walked through Milstein at homecoming, I don't think the building is half bad, and it certainly has a more understated presence on the Arts Quad and on the surrounding buildings than some of the previously considered designs. And ironically, despite its understated nature, it's quite an aggressive building, with angles and domes and cantilevers and green roofs. But I'll leave the formal critiques to the architects. Time will only tell how well it ages.

No, where Milstein meets its downfall is in its cost relative to the amount of additional space it provides. AAP is basically getting a lecture hall that it will share with the rest of the University, some gallery space, a handful of really weird bathroom pods, and expanded studio space for architecture students. At the cost of $1,000 a square foot. By contrast, a just-as-stunning Weill Hall provided scientific labs that very well may cure cancer at the cost of less than $650 a square foot!

At the very least, Milstein Hall should have been bigger. Perhaps not in terms of its acreage, but the design could have easily incorporated a second floor of studio space, which would have allowed the college to grow in the future and admit more master's students. You know, to help pay for the building.

Matthew Nagowski | November 02, 2011 (#)

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

I'm certain fellow MetaEzra writer Kyle Scott '11 will have more to say about the topic, but The Sun has a lengthy article today exploring WVBR's less than ideal relationship with the University:

“We want to use Cornell’s campus, hold events on campus, recruit on campus. We are a student organization,” Kaminsky said.

Gutenberger said that while the University understands and appreciates the historical connection of WVBR to the Cornell student body and campus, it cannot run the risk of giving the organization special treatment over its local competitors.

It's interesting to compare WVBR's plight with Slope Media, which has been coddled by the University since its founding and will be increasingly coddled due to its new by-line funded status. All because WVBR is a student-run "commercial" radio station, whereas Slope Media is a student-run "student" organization that just so happens to sell advertising space on its website.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Sun, as a non-University affiliated organization, use University space to both host informational sessions and hold their annual elections? So what's the Sun's formal role both on campus and in its own story about another student-run media organization?

I think the broader point is that any Cornell-centric organization run by Cornellians walks a tricky line of independence with the University, and it's an issue that comes up for MetaEzra as well. I try hard not to blur the lines between my role as an alumni volunteer for Cornell and as the editor and publisher of an 'independent' alumni blog, but at some point there are some shades of gray, as I've obviously become privy to some issues that your average Joe Cornellian would not. Dealing with these types of organizational ambiguities is something that I think the University will have to increasingly deal with in the 21st century as the world becomes a more open and transparent place.

Matthew Nagowski | November 02, 2011 (#)

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)