#student activism
Campus Activists Create “Disorientation Guide”

disorientation guideVarious student activist groups have created a “Disorientation Guide” for Columbia University to inform new students about activist and left-wing issues surrounding the university.

The guide, which can be viewed here, was made by “student activists committed to supporting a culture of dissent and politicization on Columbia’s campus” with contributions from members of groups such as Student Worker Solidarity, No Red Tape, and Columbia Prison Divest.

Similar guides have been created in 2000 and 2002. The 2014 guide includes more about history than the previous guides, several perspectives on the core curriculum, and warnings about “corporate feminism.” The 2014 guides takes a more oppositional approach to the Columbia administration and bureaucracy, warning that “Administrators are not your friends…ever…” and “[s]enators, student councilors are frivolous, their only power comes from an agitated student body.”

SGB Discourages Use of Faculty House
SWS

SWS

The Student Governing Board’s Executive Board, representing approximately 100 campus groups, issued a statement yesterday discouraging the use of the Faculty House until appropriate negotiations with workers have been made. Last week the Student-Worker Solidarity coalition braved the elements to rally for their cause of “economic justice” for local workers, particularly now for Faculty House workers’ living wage, though they were concerned with this cause as far back as December, too. SGB Chair David Fine said that the E-Board does not usually hold events in the house, so the move is mostly symbolic—individual student groups might have used the space, however. Here’s the statement.

The Executive Board of the Student Governing Board of Columbia University (SGB) has voted to officially discourage our groups from reserving space at Columbia’s Faculty House venue until the University resolves its ongoing labor disputes with a significant portion of Faculty House workers, effective immediately. Though groups are technically able to continue using the space as a venue for their events, we discourage them from doing so because the treatment of the workers at Faculty House fails to uphold the standards we expect from the entire Columbia community.

Read on for the good stuff.

Grassroots Activism Springs Eternal

Days on Campus propaganda ft. flow chart arrows from the GSET Facebook page

Dean Awn’s announcement today of a very last-minute date change to the 2012 GS Class Day didn’t go over so well—now, a couple of GS students are planning to do something about it. Acronyms abound.

The self-described “new and self-explanatory activist movement” GS Equal Treatment (aka GSET) has made an announcement of their own:

“Due to the urgent renewed need to support GS seniors, GSET has decided to reveal the GS Equality Fund in advance of its expected summer launch. The GS Equality Fund is a senior fundraising campaign in the spirit of the Columbia College Fund, dedicated to leveraging the collective donation power of as much of the graduating class as possible. The GS Equality Fund will finance projects for GSET, GSSC and other groups that aim to reduce the unwarranted disparity between GS and other schools at Columbia. At least one of these small projects will take place before the end of the spring semester.”

Attempts to further investigate what exactly we can expect from the GSEF have thus far been fruitless—GSET’s Facebook page was launched on April 15 and their website is nearly bare, but for a graphic of Alma smoking a cigarette and drinking what looks suspiciously like a Cisco—but we’re nonetheless titillated, as always, by the prospect of sticking it to the man. And/or by the possibility of free tee-shirts, ’cause you never know.

 

SGB Adds Seven Groups and a New E-Board

Last night was the Student Governing Board’s semesterly town hall, a gathering of the leaders of dozens of student groups to elect a new executive board and decide whether to allow new groups to join SGB. The Student Governing Board (SGB) is an important, if largely unknown, institution at Columbia; created in the aftermath of the 1968 riots, the group represents political, religious, and activist groups.

The biggest story last night was the election of a new executive board. There was some drama: the only candidate for chair ran unopposed, one candidate for treasurer started his speech by announcing he was dropping out to run for a representative slot, and one candidate for vice-chair didn’t show since she’s currently studying abroad in London. She did send a written statement, though, which was convincing enough to get her elected. Congratulations to the new board!

  • Chair: David Fine
  • Vice Chair: Maryam Aziz
  • Secretary: Isaiah New
  • Treasurer: Maliha Tariq
  • Rep: Danielle Arje
  • Rep: Kanak Gupta
  • Rep: Shayna Jones
  • Rep: Mel Meder
  • Rep: David Offit
  • Rep: Nita Ponnaganti
  • Rep: Adam Wilson

After the jump, find out which groups were admitted to SGB and more

Protest Against New Barnard Tuition Fees

Starting at noon today on Lehman Walk, students will protest the recent changes to the Barnard tuition policy. Organizers ask that attendees and those who wish to show their solidarity wear the color red and change their facebook profile pictures to the Stand Up Barnard graphic (available on the facebook event page). 300 people say they’re attending, so keep an eye out for a sizable assembly come lunchtime.

Dean Hinkson visited SGA on Monday to talk about the changes, but did not address the critical date of the new policy’s implementation. Read and sign the protesters’ official petition, which currently boasts nearly 600 names, here.

The Pamphlet:

Twenty Seven Million Dirty Secrets: An Abolition Campaign

Remember campus character Phillip Dupree, snowball-fight purveyor extraordinaire? He’s back in action, but this time he’s throwing shots at something much more deserving than a freshperson.

Dupree and fellow Columbians Megan Armstrong and Lucy Herz have started a project to combat what he calls “the world’s 27 million dirtiest secrets”—slavery in the modern world. Their I Am An Abolitionist Campaign kicks off tonight, and includes documentary screenings, panel discussions, and a benefit concert in the future. CNN’s Freedom Project has even expressed interest in profiling them! Their blurb:

“Some of us know that the industry of human trafficking has grown to an appalling size, a few of us even know that there are 27 million people being trafficked today, more than there ever were at the height of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. However, some don’t. And those who do know about it don’t know how to respond. Starting March 31st [that's tonight!] at 8pm in 309 Havemeyer, Columbia Intervarsity Social Justice is launching the I AM AN ABOLITIONIST Campaign that aims to inform and inspire college students to be modern-day abolitionists.”

There will be a screening of the “rockumentary” Call + Response, followed by a talk and Q&A session with Justin Dillon, musical artist and director of the film.

Canvassing in the Keystone State: A Story of Success, Slammed Doors and Swag

Bwogger Carolyn Ruvkun tagged along with the Columbia University Democrats on their annual campaign trip. Recapturing Columbia’s activist past, the dedicated Dems knocked on 50,000 doors, made the local news and almost got arrested. So open a cool can of Keystone, kids, we’re heading to the Keystone state!

Early on the Friday morning of Fall break, the Dems assembled at the sundial, grabbed their bags and bagels, and squished into silver vans. They left for Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District to campaign for the incumbent, Patrick Murphy, against his Republican opponent and (spoiler alert!) eventual winner, Mike Fitzpatrick. PA-8 serves the contested Bucks County, which has historically swung between the two congressional candidates. Fitzpatrick represented the district for one term before Murphy unseated him in 2006. Their 2006 race was the nation’s second most competitive, drawing a whopping 57% turnout. Murphy prevailed by a slim margin of 1518 votes. But 2010 presented very different circumstances for a district battered by the recession. An Iraq veteran who championed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Murphy proved a worthy candidate for the Dems’ support. The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat faced Fitzpatrick, an extremely conservative Republican. Plus, Murphy’s campaign agreed to finance our lovely (read: ciggie-stained) rooms at the Days Inn, conveniently located by a real Amish Market.

Though briefly delayed by a fight in the Days Inn parking lot, the Dems got fired up on Saturday morning with the Cupid Shuffle, then headed to their “staging location,” the local campaign headquarters. Murphy organizers presented us “turf” —long lists of names, routes and addresses —for canvassing. We were instructed to knock on the doors of these registered Democrats and remind them to vote. Sounds simple, but what a spectacle.

Blasting Pretty Boy Swag, we sped through the sleepy suburbs of Bucks County in our silver vans lovingly named the Sketch-mobiles. (The Dems know how to make an appearance; a Columbia Democrat speaks at a noticeably higher decibel level than an average person). My van spent most of the weekend canvassing in freakishly uniform upper-middle class neighborhoods that resembled the set of American Beauty. But those “little boxes” held true gems; we met some crazy characters. Some were excited about our endeavors. One eager middle-aged dad in a strapping sweater vest offered me and my canvassing partner soda, and urged us to “kick some ass!” Others accused us of being “fucking naïve” socialists. Overall, the friendly folks outnumbered the sassy and downright rude. I talked to Bucks County residents about their Halloween decorations, the origins of their last names and their colorful mezuzahs. Also, apparently people think it’s okay to answer their doors wearing only boxers.

(more…)

Bwoglines: Today Edition

Bogaevsky, Morning (1910), via Wikimedia

The appearance of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at the WLF today has drawn some protest online. Will we see political activism on campus? (Various)

Why you skip class (kind of) and what to do about “anxiety-related school refusal”. (WSJ)

Not that this affects the vast majority of you campus-loving college students, but it looks like the unlimited MetroCard will stay unlimited, though it will jump to $104 from $89 per month. (NYT)

In slightly more exciting subway news, the MTA will add television screens to the shuttle train between Times Square and Grand Central. The screens will apparently exclusively show baseball highlights, so you’ll be able to pretend to watch Jeter & Co in the playoffs while trying to ignore homeless people. (WSJ)

Bloomberg is taking steps to attract and retain young artists in New York, the dirty art-grubbing plutocrat. (Capital NY)

Bwoglines: On Your Way Out

It’s time for everyone to leave Butler. (Spec)

The Columbia bubble isn’t good for our reputation. (Huffington Post)

Paterson set the standard for the position of Governor. (Huffington Post)

Maybe next year we won’t have to go home on Christmas Eve. (Spec)

The government’s answer to helping us all stay healthy. (Huffington Post)

Bwoglines: I Can Haz Picture With Julia Stiles

Julia Stiles, CC’05, wins an alumni award, poses with PrezBo. (Spec)

Columbia paleontologists discover a 240-million-year old dinosaur fossil. (USA Today)

Student activism is BACK at Berkeley. (HuffPo)

In retrospect, we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that LOLcats was somehow turned into a profitable company, but who would have thought the guy that runs it is also super obnoxious? (Gawker)

It’s the Oscars tonight this weekend, so watch that if you want to.

Do You Support Gender Neutral Housing?

Living in sinFollowing Columbia administration’s decision to postpone the implementation of a gender neutral housing policy that was expected to be in place for the 2010-2011 academic year, the students who introduced the plan – EAAH President Avi Edelman (CC ’11) GendeRevolution President Miranda Elliot (CC ’10), 2011 VP Sean Udell (CC ’11) and 2010 VP for Policy Sarah Weiss (CC ’10) – have been circulating a petition to address the administration’s concern that there may not be enough student support for the new housing policy.

Avi Edelman answers a few of Bwog’s questions.

Why do you think the administration decided against implementing the policy, or even a pilot program for this year’s selection process? What reasons did they give for the decision (other than their worries that not enough students were in favor of it)?

A lot of the reasons given for the delay were logistical–updating the housing application, educating the student body about the changes, and getting feedback from students about the policy were all mentioned. That’s extremely frustrating and disappointing, because the proposal was submitted according to a timeline established in consultation with administrators. Those of us who worked on the proposal (a broad coalition that included CCSC, ESC, Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, GendeRevolution, and the Columbia Queer Alliance) also made it very clear that we were eager to assist the administration in the logical work necessary to make this happen in time for this year’s room selection. Many administrators that we have worked with have been fantastic, and I am confident that the policy will eventually become reality; this is just a classic case of bureaucratic foot-dragging.

More answers after the jump!

(more…)

Cable News Channel Actually Sides with Student Protesters

 - Photo via The Harlem Eye

Ten days ago, student activists and the Columbia administration clashed over the 125th Street establishment Floridita, as the university intervened to kill a NY1 story about the restaurant’s fight with Floridita owner Ramon Diaz. The university claimed to still be in negotiations with Diaz over the termination of his lease (thanks to eminent domain), while Diaz claimed that the university had not negotiated with him since the fall.

After reviewing the evidence, it looks like NY1 isn’t buying what Columbia’s selling: according to SCEG organizer Andrew Lyubarsky, NY1 has decided to run a story after all, “tenatively scheduled for Thursday morning” about both the restaurant and the students defending it, including an interview with Diaz.

SCEG activists, not to be outdone, presented a petition to the administration earlier this evening, asking “that Mr. Diaz’s current lease be honored until its legal expiration in 2015, regardless of whether or not the ESDC has the right to utilize eminent domain to terminate it prematurely, unless the termination is by mutual agreement with Mr. Diaz” and that you accommodate the Floridita restaurant either within the expansion footprint or in a neighborhood site agreeable to him under reasonably and mutually-agreed upon terms.” Activism – it never ceases! Full petition (and the letter presenting it) after the jump. (more…)

Revolution! (but No Negative Consequences, Please)

 
 Photo Courtesy of NYU Local

The Columbia Students for a Democratic Society, who used to know a thing or two about campus protest, just sent out a press release from Take Back NYU, the pro-Gaza-ish, Marxist-y group that took over Kimmel Hall last night.

Their first demand? They request, “full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.” Style tip for radical, leftist protests: Don’t mention yourself until the end.

According to the New York Times and NYU Local, the protest started with around 70 students and has dwindled to less than fifty. The Times posited that only half the students are native NYUers and many New School students, apparently addicted to building occupation, are among the crowd. Full press release after the jump.

-DJB

(more…)

Gaza 2.0

Bwog returned to the sundial for its second lunch of activism in two days. The speakout began promptly at 12:00 PM activist time (aka “12:13″).  A wan student (to the accompaniment of a bongo drum, vital in any event requiring “atmosphere”) listed the names and ages of the victims of conflict. He was surrounded by pairs of shoes – a setup clearly designed to commemorate the thousands of men, women and children who’ve lost their lives in Gaza.

Among the guest speakers was Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, who gave a rousing damnation of the general state of world affairs, asserting that the war was “made possible by the US’s tax dollars,” and also on the soapbox were slightly less vocal but nonetheless sincere representatives of the various student organizations (“I’m really nervous,” practically mumbled one of them). Yet excepting the occasional flyer-thrusting and poster-hoisting that was involved, the event maintained its solemn disposition.

Yet the solemnity eventually gave way to mulling about. Busy non-participants shuffled their way through the middle of the crowd. Two participants seemed more concerned with talking about their law school applications than the event at hand. Then someone thrust a flag into their hands and they perked up, renewed with idealistic zeal.  (more…)

Monday Pro-Gaza Rally Canceled

A quick note for all those planning to enjoy the spectacle on Low Plaza at lunchtime today: the pro-Gaza rally has been canceled.

Event organizers told Bwog that the rally, originally planned to take place on Low Plaza, had to be canceled due to “scheduling conflicts.” The opposing “Rally of Solidarity and Peace for Israel” is still scheduled for noon at the Sundial.

The other events in the series, including evening vigils during the week and a speakout tomorrow, all at the Sundial, will still take place.