Senior class's Amazing Race includes milking a cow, playing … – Cornell Chronicle

More than 50 students waited patiently outside President David Skorton’s office, lining one side of the hallway on the third floor in Day Hall in an “L” shape that turned the corner.
They all were there April 27 to shake Skorton’s hand, and check one more item off the list of “The 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do” before running off to complete a few more items in a Class Council-sponsored event, The Amazing Race.
The list, which first appeared in the Cornell Alumni Magazine in 1995 and has been adapted over the years, includes several tasks not officially condoned by the university. But many would be on any Cornellian’s recommended list — like visiting the Johnson Museum, viewing the brain collection in Uris Hall and getting free ice cream at the Dairy Bar. The full list is online at
The Amazing Race began April 26 at the Spirit of Zinck’s Night in the Regent Lounge in the Statler Hotel; 25 teams of three to five people had signed up to compete.
“It’s a real senior-bonding event,” said Ayesha Katrak ’07, an English major in Arts and Sciences and a vice president for the Class of 2007. But, she admitted, “The logistical coordination of this was a nightmare.”
The Class Council organizers selected about 15 items from the list and arranged time blocks throughout the day April 27 to give the teams scheduled times in which they could check off items, from cow milking at Q Barn and viewing the rare book collection at Kroch Library to ringing the bell at the Plantations and playing croquet on the Arts Quad.
Shaking Skorton’s hand was added to the list just a couple of days before, after Katrak met Skorton at an event and brought up the idea. A time was subsequently set by the president’s office.
“He helpfully made 15 minutes of his time [available] for us on two days’ notice,” Katrak said.
When Skorton emerged from his office shortly after 4 p.m. (a few minutes late, due to a long-running phone call), the hallway filled with applause.
Skorton beamed. “My first sit-in!” he remarked, without missing a beat. Then, after some more banter with the organizers and first students in line, he moved down the line, chatting amiably with the seniors and giving each one a handshake — after announcing that he would only shake each student’s hand if they first told him how many items out of the 161 they still hadn’t checked off their list.
Skorton posed for pictures with students, donning a Burger King paper crown for a photo with several seniors, also wearing crowns. Skorton suggested they turn the crowns around so the logo wouldn’t show in the photo, reminding the students that he is a vegetarian.
The seniors then hurried off to the Plantations to ring the giant bell, also known as the gong, at the east end of the Arboretum, one of the last events on the day’s list.
And the winners are …
Gift certificates to Collegetown eateries were awarded to the first-, second- and third-place teams. Team 14 (Kate McGinnis, Sarah Bates, Matt Haberland and Sean Pont) won the competition, followed by The Oasis (Christina Nowik, Chris Tems, Jamie Stele and Seth Palesh) and Lovely Ladies (Violeta Reza, Ysa Lopez and Quynh Nguyen).
“I was pretty amazed by the rare book collection and seeing [the lock of] Charles Dickens’ hair,” said Charis Law ’07, a human development major in the College of Human Ecology.
“Milking a cow was cool, but the free ice cream was probably the best,” said Jeremy Deans ’07, a geology major in Arts and Sciences. “They gave you three, four scoops of ice cream.”
“The key is to get people on your team without Friday classes,” said Jeff Chien ’07, a biology major in Arts and Sciences, to which a teammate remarked, “We’re all seniors — who has Friday classes?”
“The Amazing Race” ended at 6 p.m. with teams rushing to McGraw Tower to climb all 161 steps — the 161st item on the list.
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