Comment #1 about Ask a Dean 3/6/17

Date: March 2017


Dear Deans,

I am concerned about the email sent to graduate students yesterday. I do not doubt that other graduate students have the concerns raised about the unionization effort, but the selective presentation of only critical material is concerning.

In particular, the insinuation without evidence that there are large-scale “lies” being told by CGSU is shocking. I am unaware of such lies.

Without specifics, we are reduced to insinuations. This hinders the ability of graduate students to make informed decisions based on the facts.

I look forward a detailed statement from the deans concerning what specific inaccuracies they believe are being put forth by CGSU, along with the ability for CGSU to discuss such matters directly with the deans and respond to these charges in a public forum.

Only by having a transparent and public debate based on specifics can graduate students decide what is in their own best interests.

I say this as someone grateful to Cornell for the opportunity it has given me to study and work throughout my graduate career. I want Cornell to succeed as an institution. I believe that a graduate union furthers this goal, rather than hinders it. If the administration disagrees, they should say so directly rather than making roundabout and vague arguments.


Concerned Graduate Student


Dear Concerned Graduate Student,

Thank you for your Ask a Dean comments. Ask a Dean questions are submitted by students and responded to by a dean from the Graduate School. When we receive the question, we first determine that the submitter is a registered graduate student and then we determine which dean should provide the response, based on the topic. We do not edit the questions except to anonymize them, and shorten if needed.

The description of large-scale “lies” in the question about which you are concerned was the language used by the student, reflecting their interpretation of the information they were hearing from CGSU/AFT/NYSUT. Perhaps the student compared the CGSU/AFT/NYSUT information with the summary of graduate student policies and benefits on the Graduate School’s website and determined there were inconsistencies. The student posing the question did not provide details.

You suggest the benefits of a public forum. The topic of a public forum was raised in a recent Union-Management Committee meeting, where a suggestion was made that a public forum could be held involving students from CGSU and from At What Cost. Some Union members, however, disagreed with the value of such an open public forum. In my view, that’s a shame, because I agree with you that a public forum that provides an opportunity for multiple voices and perspectives to be heard would help students make an informed voting decision. 

Thank you for your good wishes for Cornell to succeed as an institution. 

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School