Class Of 2021 Releases Their Own Statement On Charlottesville

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Do they sell these at the bookstore?

This afternoon, the Columbia class of 2021 released a letter in their Facebook group addressed to “the students of the University of Virginia and Charlottesville Community.” The letter condemns the violence of the “Unite the Right” rallies and expresses support for marginalized students. So…that’s pretty much how the class of 2021 is going to go. We’ve included the full statement below.

Shortly after Barnard President Sian Beilock emailed all of her students a statement on the riots in Charlottesville, VA, the incoming Columbia class of 2021 decided it was time to release their own statement, too. Yes, that’s right. Somehow the entire class of 2021 was able to discuss, debate, and then consolidate all of their mutually agreed upon opinions into a one-page letter. That they posted on Facebook. And signed “Class of 2021, Columbia University.”

There’s even a hashtag.

The letter opens with a proclamation: “Columbia University’s Class of 2021 stands in solidarity with students who were marginalized by the events that occurred on August 11th and 12th.” The focus of the letter was support for UVA as an academic institution, “a sanctuary for young learners.” It warns of the consequences if the US “continues to normalize hateful speech and actions.” We wonder what PrezBo—a staunch defender of (and expert on) the First Amendment—will say.

While, of course, a formal statement from a group of several hundred students who’ve never met IRL won’t be perfect, the most profound aspect of 2021’s letter isn’t necessarily its content—it’s the significance of making such a statement. The class of 2021 is setting the tone for their time at Columbia pretty early. The organizers of this letter are certainly making themselves and their peers known as a class that will not remain silent. But is that really how every member of the class of 2021 wants to be known? It’s a risky move to imply that the entire class agrees with the views expressed in the letter, let alone attach such views to the University itself.

We’re not saying the contents of the letter are good or bad, we’re just saying that the whole move was pretty yikes.

Here’s the statement, for your reading pleasure:

Update, August 16, 1:45 PM: Bwog wishes to clarify that we are not condemning the contents of this letter or any members of the class of 2021’s stance against the white supremacist and neo-nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville. This article was intended to call attention to the context of this letter and the manner it was written and signed.

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  1. A concerned Lion

    Hatred and violence occurred on both political extremes in Charlottesville. It's curious that this letter--or, for that matter, most people commenting publicly about the protests--seem to gloss over this fact. Ideology turned violent is reprehensible regardless of its origins. How do we curb this process? The answer *is* free speech. Free speech is the antidote to violence; violence the alternative to free speech. The "speech that truly matters" is that of every individual, not just certain groups as the letter suggests. And if we "must challenge hate-filled ideologies," then challenge the hate-mongering occurring on all sides of the political spectrum. Challenge it with free speech and reasoned debate. As you rightfully criticize the "hate-filled ideologies" and "prejudiced views" on the right, don't become complacent with the same trends occurring on the left. If the Class of 2021 is setting their tone in this letter, it's a tone that better practice what it preaches.

    • God, The Balls

      A few things:
      1. You should be careful about making moral equivalencies between the fascists on the right and those protesting against them on the left. Obviously the violence is not good, and the fact that a person died is terrifying, but clearly one side is worse than the other.

      2. It seems that the biggest problem today is that people can't have rational, reasonable debate. On either side.

      3. It surprises me that this was posted as "Columbia University" Class of 2021, given that GS and Barnard have their own Facebook groups. And did all (or even a majority) of even CC/SEAS students vote yes on this?

      • why

        The problem here is that violence erupted from both sides. The protests began with arguing and it slowly built up to eventual physical violence between the left and the right. The antifa was seen beating white nationalists with clubs during the rally. The white nationalist plowed through a horde of the counter protesters, killing a woman. Justice should be served no matter the political belief. The violence should be condemned no matter what political stance the people had. I agree with A concerned lion in that the letter cannot lighten the horrifying violence of the left just because they agree with the left politically.

        Your stance on one side is clearly worse than the other- was ignorant. The antifa organization has long been built on violence and hate. They assulted people asserting their free speech rights in Berkeley and engaged in street fights with the alt-right in places like Sacramento. Even other than the antifa, there have been continuous radical acts by the leftists who assault Trump-supporters, which the leftist media does not give coverage because they disagree politically.

        Why do people always assume the alt-right and neo-nazism is more extreme than the radical of the left? I think the radical extremists on both sides are horrifying. The alt-right and their racist ideology is just as terrifying as the violent antifa Marxists. The acts of hate is not a matter of arguing over "moral equivalence"; it should be a matter of condemning violence no matter the political stance.

        • Anonymous

          It was signed off as Columbia University Class of 2021 because that is how the fb group is denoted by admins. Blame the bureaucracy for compartmentalizing out Barnard and GS.

    • Eyeroll

      Uh, what exactly is the "violence" you are claiming was perpetrated by the non-Nazi "side" in C'ville?

      • eyeroll #2

        The police chief said this: Other groups also began amassing along the street and in the park. Gradually, the crowd sizes increased along with aggressiveness and hostility of attendees toward one another. Shortly before 11 a.m., individuals in the crowd began throwing objects and spraying chemical agents into the crowd. The city and county then made a declaration of “local emergency.” The crowd size became increasingly violent, with mutually engaged combatants, with one-on-one attacks following.

        Also New York Times reporter, Sheryl Gay Stolberg: the hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park

    • lol k fam

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but you appear to be saying that all forms of speech are lawful and need to be protected. This is a radical and very controversial statement.
      Not all forms of speech are, nor should be protected by the first amendment and organizations like KKK is one of them, since they have intrinsically violent ideologies that harm and do not add value to American society.
      The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups threaten the public order, safety, health, morals, and/or the fundamental rights and freedoms of other people, rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
      The Klu Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups cause more than pain and distress to the overwhelming majority of the American people and may amount to fighting words or a direct threat to the physical and emotional well-being of individuals at whom the threat is targeted.
      An organization like the KKK and their hate speech are unlawful and should be prohibited because of their actions to promote violence, fear, and unrest in the United States.

    • Are you kidding me?

      It's extremely naive for you to say that free speech is the end-all-be-all solution to violence. Also, what do you think the dialogue between the terrorist group, also known as the KKK, will lead to?? They will not compromise, nor stop until non-white, non-Christian, non-hetero people are oppressed or even killed. If you want to challenge hate, challenge their hate through policy & peaceful protest. Dialogue or "reasoned debate" with them will lead nowhere.

      • fspeech

        ok so if you disagree with free speech are you saying people should be thrown in jail if they express contradictory ideas? of course the KKK's ideas and philosophy is fked up but they have the right to express their idea.

  2. There's def white supremacists in 2k21 #callthatshitout

    Disorientation guide 2017 gonna be written by the pre-frosh fuck yeah

  3. Alex

    "It’s a risky move to imply that the entire class agrees with the views expressed in the letter, let alone attach such views to the University itself."

    As a member of the class of 2021 who saw this being workshopped in the Facebook Group but didn't participate in the process, just thought I'd add my thoughts here. I didn't perfectly agree with everything said in the letter -- the general sentiments, of course, but maybe not all the phrasings, particularly the part that seems semi-hostile to the concept of free speech -- but I did seriously respect my fellow classmates for putting this together cooperatively, if only because it showed a spirit of cooperative engagement.

    That said, I did find it a little presumptuous that it was signed on behalf of all of 2021. The fact that, as another commenter noted, it was signed Columbia University without including Barnard or GS in the process seems like an honest oversight; CC/SEAS students view themselves, not unfairly imo, as the de facto Columbia undergraduate class of their year. Even if that's not *technically* correct. What bothered me more is that it was written on behalf of the entire class, despite the fact that A. Not everyone is in the Facebook group, B. Not everyone had time to participate in the process, and C. Even if A. and B. were satisfied, it'd be impossible to draft a statement on behalf of the entire class, especially considering there are no official class leaders. The authors might have thought they were encompassing the entire class's POV on the issue, but if they took a step back, I think they would've realized how impossible that is. Maybe I should have said something during the process, but didn't see it until it was almost finished, and at that point I didn't think it would be useful.
    tl;dr Incredible props to my classmates on organizing such an eloquent, beautiful statement, but I seriously wish they had signed it with something like "A Group of Concerned Members from the Columbia Class of 2021" or some such.

    • A member of the class of 2021

      So agree with this. I had some serious issues with the statement when I saw it, especially the anti-free speech bit, having not participated in its creation.

      There was definitely a reason some chose not to participate in the drafting of this letter, and putting other people's names on a letter they did not write seems incredibly presumptuous about other people's beliefs and values to me. However, once they started the letter, what could I really say without the fear of being labeled a white supremacist myself? This, I believe, speaks to the root of the problem. By condemning free speech, the Class of 2021 has already stifled opportunity for debate, even before they arrive on campus. Can't wait for four years of this SJW madness.

      • Incoming 2021er

        Totally with you guys - I'm obviously with the overall intent of the letter but the dig at free speech was pretty off putting and not exactly encouraging given that I know I'll be in a political minority on campus.

        I wish I had seen it before it was published. It definitely could have made it more clear it condemns the /violence/ and not the act of protesting with an inflamatory viewpoint. (One that I find completely morally reprehensible! But one that deserves the ability to be expressed.) But let's be honest, that's probably not what many of the letter writers thought... which does not bode well.

        • annoyed

          There is no dig at free speech here, its just saying that minorities will repsond with the truth. It doesn't explicitly say that these people can't express their opinions, only that the violence of fascist neo nazis cannot be excused by "free speech." Free speech has its limits ffs. Why can people agree that you cant yell fire in a movie theater but cant agree that you cant call for the eradication of wide swaths of society?

          • incoming 2021er

            I get what you mean - it was just a little murky. I'm all for the intent of the letter and I'm happy to have my name (technically) attached to it, it was just that paragraph that made me pause. i.e. if the speech of the disenfranchised is the only true speech who gets to decide that? Is that the only speech that should be completely protected?

            I realize this is pedantic but with campuses becoming increasingly politically polarized I think it's important.

            I'm definitely not for any direct incitement of violence and the second that kind of speech starts I'm all for it being stopped.

          • fspeech

            ok literally speech is illegal if it calls for physical violence.. but if they're just trying to express their ideas and opinions, no matter how radical it seems, then it is legal.

            no one is saying their ideology and philosophy is ok.. its just that the government cannot step in to make them shut up from spouting trash. the moment the government gets involved in what can say or cannot say, that means the government can throw you in jail for expressing your ideas. condemning free speech is a very dangerous idea. even if what someone else says pisses you off...

  4. Anonymous

    Great way to advocate for free speech by writing a letter written by a handful of people and put words in everyone else's months.

  5. Anonymous

    Where was everyone when BLM was rioting and looting and ambushing and killing cops?

    • Exasperated

      What the fuck does this even mean.

    • lol k fam

      aye, think about this for me.

      What is the Black Lives Matter Movement?

      The Black Lives Matter movement is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted. The Black Lives Matter movement affirms the humanity of black people(including black Queer people, black trans people, women and other marginalized identities), and their resilience in the face of deadly oppression. This does not undermine other races, it simply serves as a way to bring important issues faced by black people to surface. This is especially important because we live in a society where these issues are brushed under the table, in order to protect the “collective happiness” of American people. Contrary to the belief of the All Lives Matter movement, the idea is not that lives that aren’t black don’t matter, it is that black lives matter also, because the current system does not recognize that. The Black Lives Matter movement does not have a radical agenda unlike groups such as the Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the Order, ISIS, Al Qaeda and so on.

      Why were there violent riots connected to the BLM?

      Unfortunately, in the past, there have been radical protesters, who claim to be part of BLM, who have attacked police officers and participated in riots. These actions have been condemned by various leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement because their actions are not a proper reflection of what the movement stands for. There are lots of people who agree with the basic view that black people are unjustly marginalized. The other views of these people can vary largely and the BLM movement has no control over this.

      What are the Ku Klux Klan/Neo-Nazis?

      Like other terrorist groups, they have a radical political agenda. They are white supremacists. They are a 150 year old hate group, that has terrorized and killed thousands of Americans. There have been various accounts of established white supremacist groups using methods such as counterfeiting money and robbery to fund guerrilla armies. They are the American equivalent to ISIS, yet we still allow them to terrorize. A group of kids make a post condemning them, and you guys are having an issue with it? Yikes. On the matter of free speech, you should consider the fact that there has there been more political effort to ban flag burning than to create anti-kkk/nazi laws.

      to finally respond to your question
      Where was everyone when BLM…?

      Now that you understand that we are dealing with two very different issues and groups. You should also reason that there is obviously going to be different levels of outrage by the American people.

    • jjjj

      they didn't care because they agree with them politically lol
      oh yeah also leftist news sites barely gave it coverage

  6. Nostalgic Tiny Rick

    Oh yeahhhh! Long comment sections are back!

  7. I appreciate those of you who agree and participated in the creation of the give me hope for the future!!

  8. what the f**k is your problem

    Literal Nazis + white supremacists in C'Ville: let's kill black/jewish/marginalized people just because they're black/jewish/marginalized!
    Antifa + counter protestors: let's not do that!
    Y'all: I don't see any difference here! There was violence on both sides!

    • goodness

      so ur saying that just cause antifa fights against white supremacists violence from them is ok?

      of course there's a difference in their philosophy- but violence should be condemned regardless

  9. Wow

    The only thing that's "systematically killing" black people is other black people. Black deaths at the hand of white people are relatively minuscule.

    Black or African American
    Total homicide victims 2,491
    Number of blacks killed by whites: 189 Number of blacks killed by blacks: 2,245

    Approximately 90% of blacks are killed by other blacks.

    Blacks also make up approximately 13% of the population but commit approximately 40% of the murders.

    These are just the FACTS. White supremacist, at least statistically, are a non issue for MOST blacks. The real predator are other blacks.

    It helps to bring actual FACTS into this conversation.


  10. Wow

    The only thing that's actually "systematically killing" black people is other black people. Black deaths at the hand of white people are relatively minuscule.

    Black or African American
    Total homicide victims 2,491
    Number of blacks killed by whites: 189 Number of blacks killed by other blacks: 2,245

    Approximately 90% of blacks are killed by other blacks.

    Blacks also make up approximately 13% of the population but commit approximately 40% of the murders.

    These are just the FACTS. White supremacists, at least statistically, are a non issue for MOST blacks. The real predator are other blacks, at least with regards to homicides.

    It helps to bring actual FACTS into this conversation.

    If ANYONE here can point towards a current statute that's racist in intent, then I will fight that statute tooth and nail. But, at least with the federal code, there are non.

    White supremacy/privilege, at least in 2017, is largely a pernicious myth that does nothing but drag down the African American community.

    • Alma's Owl

      (Read this whole post, top to bottom, I have a lot to inform you about:))

      So, you're seriously asking me to point out instances of white privilege? That’s almost too easy!

      I'll just stick to discussing racial issues in health care because It would take me way too long to include other issues in this post. All of my data are from very reputable, peer reviewed sources…

      Decades of research indicate that a serious U.S. public health problem involves systemic white racism and its negative effects on minds and bodies in all racial groups, most especially Americans of color. Data indicate that almost 100,000 black persons die prematurely each year who would not die if there were no racial disparities in health (Levine et al. 2001). There are studies found that even after adjustment for income, education, gender and age, blacks had higher scores on blood pressure, inflammation, and total risk. Importantly, blacks maintained a higher risk profile even after adjusting for health behaviors (smoking, poor diet, physical activity and access to care). These data suggest that there are added factors linked to racial status that adversely affect the health of disadvantaged minority populations in the United States. Considerable scientific evidence indicates that discrimination persists in multiple contexts of American society including housing, labor markets, criminal justice and education (Blank et al. 2004; Fix and Struyk 1993). Targets of discrimination are aware of some of the discriminatory behavior directed at them and these perceptions of unfair treatment can generate stress (Clark et al. 1999). It has been shown that stress from racism within the black gay community increased risky behavior, and the likelihood of engaging in UAI(Unprotected Anal Intercourse) among MSM(men who have sex with men) of color(Han, 2014). There are well-documented disparities among racial and ethnic groups with respect to asthma prevalence, mortality and drug response due to white framing in the healthcare system(Drake, 2009). Numerous disparities reports demonstrate that Americans of color “continue to suffer from greater health problems than their white counterparts. African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic group. American Indians are nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as White Americans. Eighty-two percent of the pediatric AIDS cases consisted of African-American and Latino children” (Association of American Medical Colleges, 2010: 11.) Such inequalities do not result from something inherent in Americans of color, but are health consequences of systemic racism’s pathways of negative impact. Study findings have consistently indicated that African Americans are less likely to receive pharmacological therapy, diagnostic angiography and catheterization, and invasive surgical treatments for heart disease and stroke relative to white Americans with similar clinical disease characteristics” (Mayberry, Mili, & Ofili, 2000: 122). Researchers have found barriers for blacks and the poor in getting kidney transplants, and that black patients are less likely to receive transplants than whites. The reasons suggested by one group of researchers included physicians’ “subconscious bias” and “financial disincentives” (Alexander & Sehgal, 1998). Another study (Gemson, Linson, & Messeri, 1988) found physicians with 50 percent or more black and Hispanic patients differed greatly in treatments of patients compared to physicians with 50 percent or more white patients. The former were less likely to recommend mammography screening, influenza immunization for older patients, and smoking cessation programs. Physicians with more patients of color often failed to recommend best treatments and seemed to be highly influenced by a racial framing of health behaviors of patients of color. A study of emergency room care found that (predominantly black) children with sickle-cell disease got less attention to pain than nonblack (apparently mostly white) children with bone fractures (Zempsky, Corsi, & McKay, 2011). One overview study (Cintron & Morrison, 2006) examined medical articles on pain and found patients of color were more likely to have their pain taken too lightly and less likely to have it medically recorded accurately than white patients.

      You should stick to your guns and join the fight against systemic racism! Thanks for your time! :)

      • Anonymous

        What about all the black privilege in college admissions, jobs? Getting extra points purely for skin color and no other reason.

        • Alma's Owl

          You are very wrong, I need you to understand the following:

          Understand that perceived “brownie points”, if they even exist, are trivial in the admissions process.

          Data shows that there are undeniable disparities in income and academic achievement as a result of systematic racism, I would argue that in most cases this “black privilege” that you refer to does not exist in academia and the workforce. The U.S. racial wealth gap is substantial and is driven by public policy decisions. According to an analysis of the SIPP data, in 2011 the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings, compared to just $7,113 for the median Black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. From the continuing impact of redlining on American home ownership to the retreat from desegregation in public education, public policy has shaped these disparities, leaving them impossible to overcome without racially-aware policy change.(Institute for Assets & Social Policy, Brandeis University)

          During the application process, a person's race is not looked at in isolation. In most cases, if an applicant is coming from a traditionally disadvantaged and marginalized race, it is typically combined with very real and present disadvantages to that applicant, including their socioeconomic status.
          The black and Latino students in your class have worked more or just as hard as you and deserve to be there.

          Side note: I showed you that people are dying every day because American society is unjustly designed for the white race and your only response is to complain about the admissions process? I can’t comprehend how dense Columbia students can be. Please grow up.

        • Anonymous

          I love how bwog blacks out all the comments on black privilege but leaves the ones on white privilege. Fair?

      • yooo

        when you talk about blacks not getting as much healthcare and such because of financial reasons, then the best way to help the blacks is to actually encourage more education and safety in black majority communities so that there will be a push for education- eventually raising the social/financial status of blacks. also by raising education levels which in turn would raise financial status, the health problems in black communities would actually drop by a significant amount. just blaming it on this white privilege is really not helping solve the problems in the black community.

        like show an actual doctor/ physician or a health policy that is directed against the blacks then i would fight against it with you.. but you are blaming every single disparity on this ghost of white privilege- how are we ever supposed to solve actual problems this way?

        • Alma's Owl

          You misunderstand, I am not blaming everything on white privilege. White-privilege, is a byproduct. I am fighting against the cause of white privilege which is systemic racism and white-framing, which has been proven time and time again to exist in modern America. Education is needed, not just for people of color. It is needed for doctors, politicians and the general public in order for this country to understand that racism still exists and it still kills. Creating social awareness is part of the battle, and so is creating racially aware policy change, that supports people of color, after the system has killed and mistreated them for so long.

          I want to point out that not once did I say that the racial disparities in healthcare are solely due to financial reasons. I want you to know that even after the data was adjusted for income the issues described in my post are still very much major issues. I also want you to know that racial prejudice alone is much less than half the story.

          I don’t need you to fight against individual policy, or against an individual doctor, I need you to help rebuild the currently broken system by fighting for change. Unfortunately uninformed people, who deny the existence of systemic racism play a major role in why it continues to exist. On another note, I am happy that you mentioned promoting education in traditionally poor communities will help, that shows that you’re thinking, which is progress. I challenge you to also support existing organizations who have that goal in mind. Actions speak louder than words.

          (btw no one is just blaming it on anything, just because you haven't made an effort doesn't mean others haven't been working to solve the problem)

  11. anon

    What a bunch of self-important pricks. You have to have a special kind of arrogance to think you and a few others can speak for everyone in your class, and also anyone cares about your opinion.

  12. Excuse me, what?

    Everyone is talking about "different political sides" being a Nazi and believing PoC and those of other religions are lesser than is not a political opinion; it's a toxic fundamental view needs to be eliminated if we ever wish to achieve even a semblance of the equality in this country. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with the Class of 2021's statement, however to condemn the statement on the basis that they are only recognizing one political side is foolish to me. Furthermore, the events described above shouldn't even be classified as political or left vs right. If your political affiliation is decides whether you support or deny this rally, than you're part of the problem.

    • seriously

      OK no one is agreeing with the philosophy of the white supremacists and KKK. The letter touched on a point on attacking the matter of free speech that was the problem. Not everyone in the incoming Class of 2021 agrees with all the statements in this letter.

  13. Congrats

    You somehow managed to write something even worse than the letter. Props!

  14. Mark my words

    The showboats that organized this are going to end up on class council.

  15. Anonymous

    Rule# 1, Freshman. Never write an article or opinion piece that is supposed to represent the sentiment of the entire Columbia student body on anything. There are people from every country, every religion, every nationality, from every corner of the earth that study here. Columbia is a place where great minds from all over the world come to study and learn, and have discourse and debate. We do not want to be preached to.

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