Cornell needs to pay 'fair share,' prof writes
David Bateman, an associate professor of government at Cornell, called out his employer for not paying its 'fair share' of fees to the city of Ithaca in a recent article.
In 2020, Cornell launched the Indigenous Dispossession Project, writing, 'Cornell University was not only funded with Indigenous lands but also acknowledge as a policy that it stands on Indigenous lands.'
Despite being home to one of the most progressive campuses in the nation, Cornell University does not contribute its “fair share,” according to one of its faculty members.
David Bateman, an associate professor of government, called out his employer for not paying enough money or fees to the city of Ithaca in a recent article for The Cornell Daily Sun.
Since the school is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization, it is exempt from federal income taxes. Bateman, however, makes the argument that Cornell takes more from Ithaca in the form of public services than it puts in.
“The $33 million tax burden that would otherwise fall to Cornell is instead dispersed among homeowners,” Bateman writes, “and landlords pass it off to their tenants without fail.”
Bateman states that Ithaca has accumulated a large public debt while Cornell sits on a $10 billion dollar endowment.
Many wealthy universities make payments to their respective cities of residency by using PiILOT (payments in lieu of taxes). Yale University currently contributes $13.2 million to New Haven, Connecticut. Similarly, Princeton University has provided roughly $8.5 million in recent years to the city of Princeton, New Jersey.
According to Bateman, Ithaca requested an $8 million PiLOT from Cornell, but even after a negotiating session headed by a D.C. lobbyist, the school refused to give more than $3 million. “Despite calls for opposition from Ithaca residents, City officials ultimately accepted $4 million each year for 15 years,” he notes.
Campus Reform reached out to Bateman and asked if Cornell could ever be persuaded to pay the requested PiLOT.
Bateman told Campus Reform that Cornell’s refusal to pay the PiLOT does not stem from ill will towards Ithaca, but rather from its willingness to operate similar to “many large for-profit corporations.”
“So long as Ithaca … remains a generally attractive place to live, ie. so long as living here does not interfere with Cornell’s ability to attract labor or students, then the attention of Cornell’s various leadership positions are pulled elsewhere,” Bateman told Campus Reform.
In 2020, Cornell established the Indigenous Dispossession Project. “Cornell University was not only funded with Indigenous lands but also acknowledge as a policy that it stands on Indigenous lands,” the school website states.
The school also writes that, “As many academic institutions built upon slave labor have done, Cornell has a moral obligation to acknowledge that its origins were based on a continental-scale program of Indigenous dispossession, and educate its faculty, staff, students, and the general public about this history and why it requires action in the present.”
Bateman also believes the university has a moral obligation to address the present as well as the past. “In addition to the forms of reparation called for by the [Indigenous Dispossession] Project, learning from the past calls for the University to abandon its extractive relationship with the communities of which it is a part,” he writes.
Campus Reform reached out to Cornell University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.