Cornell’s $350,000 Fences

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There’s an update on the story of Cornell University and its odd suicide prevention efforts. The school is working hard to cut suicides, but its spending reveals some interesting priorities. According to an article by Jeff Stein in the Cornell Daily Sun:

Of the approximately $575,000 the University has spent so far in response to last spring’s student suicides, $350,000 — or about 60 percent — has gone towards the construction of “means restriction” barriers for seven bridges on and around campus, according to officials. In addition, $150,000 has helped bolster the University’s mental health counseling — though student demand for services, according to administrators, still exceeds Gannett’s capabilities.

The barriers on campus will have a limited deterrent effect since there are many, many ways people can find to end their own lives. The campus barriers will, however, significantly reduce the number of public suicides Cornell has to address. This explains why Cornell is spending much more money dealing with the immediate trigger for suicides, rather than underlying causes.

Cornell has apparently made no structural changes to make the university a better, healthier, and more pleasant place to actually study for four years.

Long known as one of the most miserable of elite schools, Cornell is famous its impersonal attitude toward undergraduates, long lines, and forcing students to pay for basic services like using its gyms and printing on campus computers. Cornell also saddles graduates with an average $21,549 worth of undergraduate debt, one of the highest obligation levels in the Ivy League.

None of these things cause students to commit suicide, of course, but they make students unhappy. And unhappiness sure doesn’t help. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer