Cornell Class of 1970 has a Web site! Who knew?

Just learned from Paul Kampas that the Cornell Class of 1970 has a Website–thanks to Jeff   Haber of  Acton, MA.  Reunion photos are posted–and Jeff requests more!

I’ll be posting my take on  our reunion eventually but in the meantime, would love to hear from you via comments or email. Or–click on the “Share Your Story” page and do so under “comments. ”

Here’s the official site’s url: http://classof70.alumni.cornell.edu/

–Anita

Ithaca Diaries–reunion talk

Photo by Vincent Blocker, 1970

Just a note to let you know that I’ll be speaking about Ithaca Diaries at the Cornell Reunion–Friday, June 11, 2010 in Keeton Hall. 

 I’ll be describing Ithaca Diaries, how I came to write it, and what the process was like–ending with an excerpt about our insane graduation, in 1970–and some questions for which I’m still seeking answers.

At the reunion, I plan to videotape classmates about their undergraduate experiences and current views; with their permission, I’ll post tapes and photos  here–along with some of my own impressions of the goings-on.

Reunion or not, I’d love to hear from you–via email, video, photo, Webcam. You can reach me  at harris.anita  at comcast.net or comment, below. 

–Anita

Anita M. Harris is an author, photographer, journalist and communications consultant based in Cambridge, MA.Ithaca Diaries blog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. HarrisCom also publishes HarrisComblog and New Cambridge Observer.

“Gorging out” at Cornell–Then and Now

Lift your spirits gathering 3-17-10

Sunshine on the quad: Photo: Matt Hintsa, Cornell Daily Sun

During my freshman orientation at Cornell (in the dark ages of the late 1960s),  there were rumors that someone had already gorged out–and school hadn’t even started . There was at least one suicide my freshman year–which then Cornell Daily Sun Editor Sam Roberts wrote was the university mental health services’ fault. 

Sophomore year,  I visited said mental health services–because I was afraid my boyfriend, who was smoking dope every night, was going to kill himself. He and his friends were totally depressed over the Vietnam War;  they hated school but if they quit, they’d be drafted. 

March 27, 1968    Harv called me up and said he  will kill himself if I won’t sleep with him. I said  I will talk to him but he is a fool if he would kill himself.  

I told  him  I’d meet him at the Temple of Zeus. He walked up from Collegetown and I walked over to Goldwyn Smith Hall. He said he was  really upset and, again, that if I didn’t go back to his apartment with him he ‘d kill himself. 

I am not going to anyone’s apartment who is going to kill himself so I said let’s go for a walk, and I walked him around the arts quad and up and down the road and into the basement of Morrill Hall, which is open at night and I lay there with him and yech I don’t want to think about it.

Finally, he calmed down and I said are you OK, now, and he said yes, so I said I’d better go, which I did. Back in my room, I felt like I was cracking up.

So I decided try again at the mental health clinic.

This time, they had me see some social worker with little short gray hair and gray skin and sharp little features; she looked like a rat in a skirt suit. She asked me why I’m there and I told  her I feel like I am going crazy.

She didn’t say anything; just sat there looking at me. She didn’t seem sympathetic, and I didn’t  feel like she would understand about Harv.  Last term, when I tried to get help, the guy told me that if my boyfriend had a problem he was the one who had to come in.   

The  story goes downhill from there…(with  much black humor) but, as you can see,  I  lived to tell the tale, and, many years later, an Internet search revealed, to my relief,  that Harv did, too. (He’s now a real estate lawyer in California).

Still, the fear that Harv would take his own life prompted my involvement in protecting the black students who occupied the student union building, with rifles, the following year.

In my journal, I wrote, “I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s death.”

And having a couple of friends take their own lives since that time has profoundly impacted my own life.

I’m upset about the current spate of suicides at Cornell–but relieved to learn that these are the first in five years–and that Cornell’s suicide rate is actually below the national campus  average.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the best study on suicides on college campuses found the annual rate to be 7.5 per 100,000 students.  But “on a 20,000 student campus like Cornell, there won’t be 1.5 suicides a year. Some years there may be zero, and others, six.”

The study, by the Big Ten Conference, which researchers are now repeating, also  found that the rate of suicide among students was half that of their  corresponding age group in the general population. This means, the Chronicle reports, that colleges’ efforts to prevent suicide are helpful.  And, in fact,  in recent years, Cornell has been at the forefront of suicide prevention.

 The University  has an “alert ” team to discuss possibly troubled students; a faculty handbook on picking up signs of distress; and a program that teaches custodians to look for warning signs. Cornell also offers walk-in visits at 20 locations across the campus for students who don’t want to use mental-health services.

I’m  glad that the University has gotten out front on this –by holding counselling sessions for students, by discussing the situation publically, by  sending emails and videos to inform alumni, and by taking care  regarding the manner in which memorial services are carried out. (The photo, above, depicts a recent rally aimed at lifting students spirits).

 I tend to agree with an alum who commented to the Cornell Daily Sun that the fences newly erected to keep people from jumping into gorges does not address the real problem (whatever that may be).  

But, mainly, I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the students who took their own lives, and my sorrow at young lives being  cut short.

—Anita M. Harris
Arts ’70

Ithaca Diaries Blog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisCom Blog and NewCambridge Observer.

People laughed…in the right places.

Last night’s reading about my insane college graduation–(featuring a walkout, two demonstrations and three arrests–at the graduation, not the reading) went well.  People laughed…. In the right places.   That’s  me, in the blue sweater (duh!)  with Neil O’Hara, facilitator of The Write Stuff, my wonderful writers group, in the background.  The presentation was sponsored by the Libary and the Lincoln Review, where I sometimes write about the arts.  Other readers included Susan Coppack, Mary Ann Hales,  Ellen Morgan and Manson Solomon.   Here’s a link to the Write Stuff Blog, http://lincolnwritestuff.blogspot.com/ which, in turn, links to this and other write stuffers’ blogs,  courtesy of  blogmeister Geoff Moore.

Mark S. Hoffman took the photo. Thanks, Mark!

—Anita M. Harris

Ithaca Diaries blog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish  HarrisComblog and the New Cambridge. Observer

Ithaca Diaries Public Reading, 12/14/09

  
Lincoln, MA Library

Lincoln MA Library

 I’ll be reading from Ithaca Diaries on Monday, Oct 14 at 7 pm at the Lincoln, MA, Public Library–as one of several presenters from my writers group–sponsored by the Library and the Lincoln Review. My piece is from the last chapter; it describes my insane graduation–which was marked by a walkout, a demonstration, and three arrests. LOL!

Refreshments will be served (yes, a bribe, even though all of us writers are remarkably talented.  Should be fun; I hope you can make it. 
Directions: lincolnpl.org/ 

 Anita

Ithaca Diaries Blog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisComBlog and New Cambridge Observer.

Welcome to the Ithaca Diaries Blogsite

Welcome the blog site of Ithaca Diaries–a book in progress about college in the tumultuous 1960s. 

 Ithaca Diaries is a coming of age memoir based on  journals I kept as an undergraduate at Cornell University at a time when  protests, politics, and violence engulfed me, my college, and the nation.  It’s often laugh-out-loud  funny (well, how  does an impressionable 18-year-old girl deal with Fat Phil the Wet Kisser and a revolution at the same time?)  but it also provides meaningful insight into the process of political and social change that led to many of the benefits we are reaping today.

On this blog, I’ll be writing about the process of completing and, I hope, publishing  Ithaca Diaries. I’ll ask questions, share content–and collect insight, advice, opinions and memories from everyone who happens in.

–Anita M. Harris

 Ithaca Diaries blog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisComBlog and NewCambridge Observer.