“We demand that you fulfill the commitment you made in your public statement one month ago today. We demand to be heard.” Look around campus and you’ll see the red tape marking the spots, including PrezBo’s door. The group, No Red Tape, is calling for a series of town halls, for decision-makers to be present at them, and for “new and diverse voices” to be included in the conversation. According to the Spectator, PrezBo has finally responded, setting a time for the town hall on March 13 from 5 to 7 pm.
Update (3:22 pm): The group has released a press release (below the jump).
The text of the blurry one:
February 27th, 2014
Dear President Bollinger,
We were thrilled to read your message to the University community in response to concerns regarding the flawed policies and inadequate resources for preventing and addressing sexual assault on campus. It was meaningful to hear you publicly acknowledge the seriousness and urgency of reforming these policies, resources, and campus culture. Specifically, we were very excited by your commitment to host a series of town hall meetings in order to engage with students directly and continuously around this issue.
However, it has been a month since you issued that statement, and we have received no news about plans for a town hall meeting. As you know, these issues affect many students’ daily lives in very real and often very traumatic ways. We ask that you set and announce a date for the first of these meetings within one week of receiving this letter, and that this meeting occur no later than March 13, 2014. If our requests are not addressed within this timeframe, we plan to escalate.
While the administration has commented that there are ongoing conversations with students about this issue, it is not clear to the student body which administrators and students are engaged in this process, how other students can get involved, and whether the parties currently present reflect the varied ways students experience and are affected by sexual violence on campus. With this in mind, we respectfully challenge you to seek out and actively include a wider diversity of students in these discussions and decisions.
The first step towards meaningful student involvement is to initiate the series town hall meetings that you have already committed to holding. It is especially important that during these town hall meetings, the decision-makers who design and implement the relevant policies and resources be physically present in the space to engage with students directly and answer questions. We must have at least one opportunity to engage directly with representatives from the following bodies: Title IX coordinators from both Columbia and Barnard; Sexual Violence Response, the Rape Crisis Center, and Consent 101 coordinators; Health Services, Columbia Psychological Services and Furman Counseling Center; and the Office of Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct, including those who select, train, and supervise the hearing panels.
“There are few things more precious on any university campus than freedom of thought and expression, … That is the teaching of the First Amendment, and I believe it should be the principle we live by at Columbia University.”
— Lee C. Bollinger
We demand to be heard.
Thank you for your prompt consideration,
No Red Tape of Columbia University
Update (3:22 pm): No Red Tape sent us the following press release:
February 28, 2014
Dear President Bollinger and the Columbia administration,
We were encouraged by President Bollinger’s announcement at today’s University Senate meeting that the administration has finally set a date for the first Town Hall on issues of sexual violence on campus.
We would like to reiterate some important points that have been missing from President Bollinger’s announcement:
- It is crucial that, during these meetings, the decision-makers and service providers who design and implement the relevant policies and resources be physically present in the space to engage with students directly and answer questions. President Bollinger announced during the Senate meeting that these forums would be hosted by deans from the four undergraduate schools. While the deans are an important part of this conversation and are, in fact, personally implicated in some of the most serious allegations, it is imperative that representatives from the relevant decision-making and service-providing bodies be present. Again, we reiterate that we must have at least one opportunity to engage directly with representatives from the following bodies: Title IX coordinators from both Columbia and Barnard; Sexual Violence Response, the Rape Crisis Center, and Consent 101 coordinators; Health Services, Columbia Psychological Services and Furman Counseling Center; and the Office of Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct, including those who select, train, and supervise the hearing panels.
- Given that, up to now, discussions about reform have only been open to a few select students, we challenge the administration to actively reach out to student groups and communities whose voices have been missing during this conversation. If the ultimate goal of these forums is to engage with the diversity of student concerns and experiences and to shape policies and resources that reflect and support us, it is imperative to actively publicize this event and seek broad engagement.
- The administration has scheduled this event for the last Thursday night before Spring Break. Many students will be leaving or have already left campus at that time. In the future, it is vital to keep student schedules in mind when planning these town halls. This oversight underscores the need for future forums and increased student input in this continuing process.
We look forward to this first of many community discussions and to participating actively in this process.
No Red Tape of Columbia University