South Lawn Declared “Blighted,” Germ Warfare May Be Implicated

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manvilleSteven Thomas stopped by today’s anti-Manhattanville rally, at which South Lawn was declared a blighted zone, and passed on this report:

A woman declaring herself to be a long-time resident across the street from Columbia stepped up to the microphone, declaring, “What Columbia isn’t telling you is that they are going to build a Level 3 Bio-Threat lab in Manhattanville.  In colloquial terms, that’s germ-warfare, over an earthquake fault.  If we are going to speak of blights, this building will be the real blight.”

However, in the sake of balance, the most recent earthquake to strike Manhattan was of magnitude 2.6 in 2001 (soft enough that it was only noticed by seismic sensors).  Also, the bioterror threat building is going to be “helping to fight such devastating diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and be instrumental in helping to improve the lives of those suffering from autism, dementia, and schizophrenia.”

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  1. poop  

    What profound crap is this? This is pandering FUD that is typical of neighborhood groups. I love how people talk about things they don't know when they have nothing else to say. Ever notice that kids get angry when they get caught lying?

  2. how many  

    people were at the rally? looks like a fair number from this camera angle.

  3. OMG  

    Are these the same people from the much-ballyhooed "tent city" of 2005? The one where they started with living there for weeks to where they turned it into an overnight campout to where they turned it into a one-day activities-fair-style info session on College Walk?

    You know, the one where COLUMBIA and COULMBIA STUDENT FEES paid for the set-up, the clean-up, the tables, the breakfast pastries, the coffee, the A/V equipment, the pizza, the t-shirts, the security (to PROTECT the "PROTESTORS"), and holy shit, even the tents themselves?

    The one where they promised 50 media outlets had been invited to the "press conference" and two or three underground papers showed up? You know, the kind NYU kids "publish" on their HP LaserJets at night?

    You know how much of a "threat" Columbia considers these aging hippies when Columbia essentially welcomed - nay, *funded* - their "protest". Contempt doesn't even begin to describe the treatment these folk deserve.

    And if these people were really terrified of a Bio-Safety Level-3 lab, they would start by getting rid of the ones in St. Luke's-Roosevelt and Harlem Hospital.

  4. nice

    You know how much of a "threat" Columbia considers these aging hippies when Columbia essentially welcomed - nay, *funded* - their "protest". Contempt doesn't even begin to describe the treatment these folk deserve."

    Yes, the people that make up Coalition to Preserve Community, et al., are definitely "aging hippies."

    But clearly you aren't alone among Columbia students and administrators in regarding the people of Harlem with contempt.

    Damn those uppity black people. That's our neighborhood, hear me? OURS...

    • well  

      if it's the black people of harlem who don't want columbia there, how come SCEG is almost all white kids? how come the coalition to preserve community is majority white? how come it's a giant storage company that puts up signs against the expansion?


    • I'm sorry  

      to interject, but I can't feel much sympathy for people who can't even put on their own protest without significant logistical and financial support from the very entity they are protesting.

      • oh please

        significant financial support? there was a cheap rented microphone. costs probably hovered around $30. and if by logistical support, you mean administration adding unnecessary security meetings that waste our time...

        and since when does the size of someone's budget decide right and wrong? i know that sounds moralistic, but really, you sound ridiculous.

  5. To be fair

    the "blight" approach is pretty clever, I think. The campus is about as well-designed as the average housing project as far as the outside world is concerned. Ever walk up Broadway around 119th Street? You barely notice when the General Grant Houses start, what with the blank walls, fences, no windows...

    It'd be neat if they tied Manhattanville up in improvements to the campus' attitude toward the street. But it'd probably cost a ridiculous amount to cut a back door into Carman. And three doors into Pupin. And CEPSR. And whatever the hell is at the corner of 119th. And Barnard...

  6. coverage?

    bwog, way to pick up on the smallest part of the rally. the labs were mentioned for all of one minute at the end and yet, of course, that's what you'd like to focus on?

  7. The current  

    population in that neighborhood is a larger biohazard threat than a CU lab could ever hope to be.

  8. Andrew  

    Honestly, Bwog's attitude towards this is completely despicable. We have a university which wants to imperiously impose itself, directly displacing a small working-class community and having significant effects on rent for the working-class icon of Harlem, and what you decide to focus on is the *most* nutty person who spoke as a side-note at the end? This city is in an affordable housing crisis, and Columbia is only exacerbating it. If community groups like CPC and their allies in SCEG, this entire island shall turn into a sterile playground for white yuppies, a huge gated community. Why can't people dialogue with this issue seriously and get rid of their bullshit elitist-ironic snark?

    • huh?

      Look around, dude. Look at some of the earlier posts about Mville. you don't have a corner on the "holier than thou" position here. It's a wide wide world of opinion.

      Would be nice if you'd really listen to yourself and to someone other than the dogma you've already pre-selected for your information.

      You are the one spouting the bullshit. Ironic slant: Your BS says keep the people down. Mville neighborhood should stay poor with marginal jobs and substandard housing. Is that what "they" deserve?

      How convenient for you. Where you from? Your parents live in Mville? I'd bet not. Working off a bit of upperclass guilt are we?

      Nobody is imperious here--Columbia is in active negotiations with the community. And you have what standing at that table?

      And please don't throw down the "white yuppies" race card. This happens every time: when an argument gets thin, someone throws down racism and expect that to be the end of all discussion. That's real BS, that's what that is.

      • andrew  

        Of course, supporting the demands of the people that live in the community (such as living-wage jobs, funding for affordable, rent-controlled housing, and sustainable economic development) can be presented as wanting to keep the neighborhood poor. Of course, the people that have the best interests of the community at mind are the ones that are trying to expel them and raise housing prices in the surrounding area to make millions of dollars. My mistake.

        Columbia is NOT going to produce employment for the citizens of Harlem, many of whom will no longer be there due to the plan. And yes, the primary problem is secondary displacement.

        There is a development plan for Manhattan. It is the 197-a plan established by the Community Board with help from the Pratt Institute. The community wants development, which could incorporate Columbia. It does not want Columbia to REPLACE them.

        "you have what standing at the table?" - the people that Columbia is trying to displace.

        Also, of course this issue is about class, but it would take extraordinary genius to not see how inextricably race and class are tied in American society. If it makes you feel better, Manhattan will be a playground for a diverse cast of upper-class yuppies representing the wonderful beauty of the global capitalist elite. But there will be no Harlem.

        • wirc  

          Again, the 197-a plan, which denies all of the benficial research and cripples the economy is "sustainable" in that it seems to sustain the community. But the community left some time ago, except for the buildings at 133rd street.

          Columbia's plan meets all of the legitimate architectural and planning requirements of the 197-a. It lacks the inclusive zoning and draconian restrictions, that's it. Remember, the 197-a was rejected before Columbia announced plans to move in, and only after serious revision by Pratt was it accepted in a panic.

          And just who will move in to restart the economy? The same groups that moved into Williamsburg and are going into SoBro. Has anyone been on Malcolm X Boulevard lately? If Columbia's out to gentrify Harlem, they have some stiff competition. Manhattanville will be gone no matter what. Fairway and Dinosaur were the first to gentrify - chew on that when you're enjoying BBQ at your SCEG meeting.

          And it's the landlords who sold their land to Columbia in the first place who are out to make millions. Some community. Community is ephemeral, and the community that Columbia students have is more consistent and stronger than the one that is there, despite the transitory nature. Community is a behavior, not a substance.

          Columbia is no more imperious than the neighborhood groups. NIMBYs complain everywhere in the same chords, claiming their interests are the only legitimate ones. What makes the interests of a few businesses more important than those of one of the greatest research institutions in the world?

          Columbia has an opportunity to make this expansion benefit the community. Offer education that will lead to filling the white-collar jobs of the project. This might actually raise people up, rather than holding on to some dream of community.

      • some person

        "And please don't throw down the "white yuppies" race card. This happens every time: when an argument gets thin, someone throws down racism and expect that to be the end of all discussion. That's real BS, that's what that is."

        Uh, the only bona fide racism I see on this thread is people writing in to say that the community in Manhattanvile constitutes a 'biohazard.' Eugenics, anyone?

        Look, I don't claim to know much about the economics of gentrification. Or how Columbia is handling the expansion process. But don't they say in Econ 101 that people tend to act in their own interests? If so, why would occupants in Manhattanvile be against relocation in the first place?

        Could it be that as a result of CU being high-handed and imperious with its neighbors, its neighbors don't trust anything it says?

    • Pro-Expansion  

      Why is the Bwog's attitude toward this despicable? Ultimately if Columbia succeeds in expanding,it will be a triumph of the free market. So what if Manhattan becomes a yuppie playground? If people can't afford to live in Manhattan, then they should move somewhere that they can afford, and hopefully carve out a better standard of living for themselves while they are at it. The counter argument is always about roots, ties to the neighborhood and the disenfranchised population's will and wants, but the question then becomes, at who's expense should their desire to stay be indulged? Without rent control and similar programs which place an unjust financial burden on a segment of society that already carries a disproportional share of societal costs, Manhattan would've long ago become yuppie island. Anyone who has taken Principles of Economics knows that rent control creates loser's all around, societies surplus declines and the end goal is not achieved. There are many areas around the country where there are labor shortages of all varieties, and where opportunities abound. Who can complain about a higher paying job for the same work, in an area with cheaper housing, better public schools, lower crime rates, and an admittedly slower and boring pace of life. But hey, you have to play with the cards that you are dealt, as long as the game is fair, everyone has the opportunity to work their way up. Can't afford Manhattan, move out, work your way up, and then buy back into it, just don't make others foot the bill for your extravagant desires. And nobody jump down my throat calling me some right wing radical, understand the situation before you work yourself into a fervor. This has nothing to do with race. This has everything to do with economic class, which is something that anyone can reach out of and into the next tier with some hard work, perseverance, and dedication. There are so many federal and state programs that are available to those who want to arm themselves with a better education or job training. And even if one's financial aid package isn't amazing, student loans are easy to get, as long as you haven't abused your credit, but people dig their own graves, but even credit reports are repairable. So what's all the fuss? Why do we have to treat everyone like they are handicapped? Then we just breed a society of invalids who constantly point the fingers at others for their problems rather than focusing on bettering themselves. Everyone has problems, its how you deal with them. Don't want to move out of Manhattanville, get creative and raise the capital necessary to stay there. This isn't an issue of civil rights where there was institutionalized handicaps placed on people. The leader's of the civil rights movement had a cause. They weren't asking for economic equality, they were asking to be allowed to play the game with the same set of rules as everyone else. I hate when people turn the game against the winners in the game. And all that stuff about reparations, and being disadvantaged because of one's lot in life... STOP CRYING. Millions of people who have it worse off, rise up higher than many who were born to privilege. We live in a meritocracy, which has been benevolent enough to provide ample opportunity, people just need to get their heads out of their asses and stop whining.

  9. earthquake  

    I was in 8th Grade when that earthquake happened in the city. I was sleeping, and I thought my body was spazzing out, but it was actually an earthquake.

  10. Amit  

    Baseless fear is annoying. Even if an earthquake was to hit New York, the architects would've factored every worst case scenario possible into their design. When research was being done on nuclear reactors, they slammed missile propelled trains and other ridiculously high impact projectiles into prototype walls to ensure structural integrity under extreme conditions. The type of earthquake that it would take to actually make the lab a threat would also crack open the earth and swallow Manhattan whole. In this day of heightened security and fear of terrorist attacks, there must've been some Federal oversight or State clearance.

  11. uh...  

    "Can't afford Manhattan, move out, work your way up."

    Are you here on your own dollar, chief?

    I'm not anti-expansion, but Principles of Economics isn't exactly the final word in this discussion.

    Furthermore: "This has nothing to do with race. This has everything to do with economic class, which is something that anyone can reach out of and into the next tier with some hard work, perseverance, and dedication."
    Again: where did you start? Do you think that's related to your ability to move up? Where did you go to first grade? Did your parents have the time and energy after their jobs to care about your education?

    I'm trying with all my strength to NOT call you a right-wing radical, but for crying out loud, look a little deeper!

    P.S. Watch those apostrophes. They don't belong in words like "leaders" or "losers"

    • Pro-Expansion  

      I grew up in the third world, came here when I as teen, was raised by a working mother who had little time to raise me, and have held many menial jobs. I'm not speaking down to anyone with a holier than thou attitude. I've had my falls and been the finger pointer before. One day I woke up and said ain't nobody going to do me, but me. I pay for school on loans and summer jobs with a ballooning debt of 80k and counting with another year of school left, and feed another mouth. So what's your point? And thanks for the punctuation pointers, my third world public school education must be second rate.

  12. b@b quote  

    Fuck the bangers and hobos in Manhattanville. the roach infested tenements 30 blocks north are just as great as the ones they're in now. So get the hell out and let us build our research labs to save YOUR worthless lives from drug ODs and AIDS

    • pro common sense?  

      do you guys hear yourselves?

      thanks for the heads up. i'll keep in mind that people only live in west harlem because they don't work as hard as you do, and therefore their rights to share in on the city of new york just aren't relevant to the university's concerns. and clearly everyone with a stake in affordable housing is a drug user. great to hear the product of our education.

      also, for "pro-expansion," even the people who spoke today don't oppose the expansion. what they've asked for is expansion within a set of community planning guidelines that they've been working on for 10 yrs in cooperation with the pratt institute. there are facts involved in all this. before you start a rant, get informed about them.

      • There are  

        less than 75 residents in the Manhattanville expansion area, and all of them live in four buildings next to the Manhattanville (not the West Harlem) Bus Depot on 132nd. Columbia's expansion won't reach that area until at least 2025.

        If you are opposed to secondary displacement, i.e. people forced to move out because the economic effects that accompany Columbia no longer make the area around them affordable, then you got another issue on your hands. In the end, its whether you want the free market or state control to prevail.

        • Actually  

          According to the press, just from a google search: There are pproximately 140 families, more than 400 residents.

          Where are your numbers from?

          • Here  

            "Would local residents be displaced?

            There are about 132 residential units on the entire 17-acre area. Despite this relatively small number, Columbia is sensitive to the need to relocate each resident to housing that is equal to or better than their current housing and is absolutely committed to doing so. It’s also important to remember that the occupied residential units are in an area of the project that would be part of the last phase of development, with construction probably two decades away (see maps)."


            Note that there's just 132 units, not 132 occupied units. At a info session I went to, I heard the figure of 75 occupancies that are "legal", e.g. the city is aware of.

          • I see what you mean  

            They are SROs.

    • victoria  

      first of all, we would not be saving lives if the lives were worthless. secondly, if you live in campus housing, you probably live in a roach infested tenement, so good work asshole. thirdly, if you actually talked to or listened to building owners you would find that most owners take care of their buildings. but...eeehhheeemmm...guess which own buys buildings to allow them to become dilipitated, vacant, under code, and awful for the community? the building owner that you where on your boring navy blue sweatshirt that you bought at our overpriced and corporate bookstore, columbia. the buildings 30 blocks north are occupied by other residents who may be in fear of the same situation in 20 years from now. in case you don't read the news b@b, new york has been experiencing a housing crisis for quite a while. we could have more research labs, too, buddy but in a very different way. we do not need to take people's homes, business, hardwork and lives. i dont know if you realize this but there are probably more small business owners on one block of this area than on an area in times square where everything is owned by corporate headquarters. actually, i do know that you dont realize this, i also know that maybe you need to stop writing on bored a butler and start reading the newspaper and maybe even take an econ class on microbusiness as an end to financial crisis. we are doing anything but saving lives.

  13. uh...  

    Dear Pro-Expansion,
    My bad. I played the odds that you weren't here on your own dollar, and I was wrong. It was also a mistake to speak down to you, and to correct minor punctuation errors. I apologize for my tone.
    However, my point is that not everyone can be you. Promoting a completely free-market economy or a completely survival-of-the-fittest society leads to people being victimized. It isn't always possible for people to work their way up. Not everyone will have the revelation that you did, and I don't think that one subset should be penalized for their entire lives for not having it while another subset doesn't have to have it in the first place.
    You've said that this isn't like civil rights, where there were institutional handicaps placed on people, but handicaps don't have to be laws in order to be real.
    I myself am pro-expansion as well, but I think that any decision like this has to be a careful balancing act, not a purely economic decision.

    • Pro-Expansion  

      Dear Uh...

      Apology accepted. You bring up some valid points, and I whole heartedly agree with you that the leaving the market itself has the potential to lead to victimization, but from what I've seen in various places that I've lived, is that market constraining behavior leads to no good, yet market assisting behavior can, in the long run, bring about significant levels of progress. I'm all for funding housing relocations and an aid package designed to arm individuals with what they need to enjoy a decent standard of living.

      As far as handicaps not having to be laws to be real, I couldn't agree more, and that being said... Is it better to finance a failed system that generates new generations of handicaps, or is it better to pull out the subsidy carpet and replace it with incentives that would develop a higher standard of living? And to everyone out there who automatically assumes that I assume everyone in Manhattanville is a drug dealer or cracked out, get real. We are talking about issues of comparative advantage and disadvantage, it doesn't have to be the extreme case where I feel that I work harder than them or think that they are lazy. I'm sure they are extremely hard working. I'm referring to the real situation that we have and not the ideal. Armed with exactly the same work ethic and skill set, there are places that they could move to, that would offer higher pay with a lower cost of living. New York Public School Teacher's start at around 30k a year, and require at least a BA if not a MA in Education. My sister-in-law lives in Virginia, in a real nice house, in a neighborhood with an excellent school district and lower tax rates, and is earning 50k a year as a secretary, for which the advertised position only required an AA. The truth of the matter is that New York is overpopulated, and however you want to look at the issues of social inequity, by allowing the market to work, and assisting individuals to move to areas where there are better job markets, we are doing the entire economy good, while improving the same individual's life. Some may say that is a totalitarian perspective, but I'm not advocating forcing people to move, I'm just advocating not subsidizing them to stay, in hopes that they choose the sensible root for their children and loved ones. New York is over-populated, all that labor could be put to much better use elsewhere, where its in demand.

      To pro-common-sense, thank you for your insight, I'll definitely look into the facts a little closer. I was speaking about gentrification and rent control issues in a broader perspective. The idea of the community plan sounds intriguing, and I'd love to explore the issue a little more, but if the community plan involves some sort of subsidy, or market distortion, i.e. Columbia or the state having to pay some sort of financial role in supporting their communities continued existence, you aren't solving any problem, you are just making it someone else's.

      • rowan  

        It's important to note in all of this that Columbia is not, by any means, acting in ways that are consistent with the principles offree-market economics. 1) They are trying to exercise, by proxy, the power of eminent domain to seize other private property through the state. 2) They are trying to do so by declaring the expansion zone blighted, an area in which they own 85% of the property; this basically means that they would be allowed to reap the fruits of their own policy of deliberate neglect and discouragement of economic development on their properties in the area. 3) They have forced everyone they have purchased property from to sign a non-disclosure agreement, making the terms of the sale secret. This certainly goes against the freedom of information that is critical to any real sort of market freedom.

        I could go on. But the key issue here is that Columbia is not acting consistently either with its mission as an educational institution or with its own PR statements. The community negotiations that people on this site and CU administrators repeatedly reference are a fairly hollow, legally mandated process, where CU is sitting across the table from politicians who represent larger areas than West Harlem and who have hijacked meetings and forced them into closed executive session. The alternative development scenario put forth in the 197-a plan mainly calls for sustainable development--not using eminent domain against tenants and businesses, committing to paying a living wage for new jobs, creating affordable housing so that THE PEOPLE WHO ALLOW NEW YORK CITY TO FUNCTION (by serving it food, cleaning it, running its trains, etc) can live less than 2 hours away, and adhering to certain environmental standards which are not-only common-sensical given the way the world is today but also CHEAPER in the long run because of savings on energy consumption and related costs...

  14. bwog=blah sometimes  

    bwog, you did a really bad job covering the event. there was so much said! so many community leaders and activists explained various issues of the expansion, literature was handed out that could be pdf-ed to the blog. questions were asked that could have been reported. bwog is a really a disappointment on this issue. you advertise these great student events to the right, articles about sir sachs and anti-oppression to the left, but in the middle you manage to fail at being funny, succeed in being elitist, and really know how not to focus on important issues outside of your safe columbia gates at times.

  15. help  

    i have heard that columbia's compensation is not enough. they are only helping with $5000 and moving fees. i do not know if any of you have tried to rend an apartment in the city but you need an average of $6000 to a broker and this is one of the more inexpensive places to live in manhattan. also, columbia refuses to go through the board of city planning, which would tell our school what we actually need to give residents to help them live sustainably. so i dont think we are committed to a notable help for these people.

  16. ???  

    Want to explain how 400 people could fit into 132 sros?

  17. Just Me  

    I am completely for the planned expansion. I have no ethical or moral qualms about it. The area will be better for it, much like the current area surrounding Columbia was.

  18. Anonymous  

    to those who believe "expansion will make the area better

    keep in mind:
    those who will move in come from upper middle class backgrounds, and those who are evicted (look at what happened to 3333 Broadway) certainly not be better off.

    it's easy to pretend we're "making harlem better," but for who?

    and discussing race in this discourse is completely legitimate. what DOES Harlem represent?

    • Wow  

      Fact: 3333 Broadway was part of the Mitchell-Lama program, the provisions of which recently expired after a 30-year program length.

      Fact: 3333 Broadway's owners would have reverted to a non-Mitchell-Lama rent structure no matter what Columbia does for the simple reason that it is MORE PROFITABLE to charge market rates for rent than rent-controlled rates.

      FACT: What happened in 3333 Broadway is unfortunate, but it is a result of PRIVATE OWNERS making decisions in THEIR OWN SELF-INTEREST. If you're against that, you might as well join the ISO.

  19. gah  

    The real problem is this: even if Columbia cut their expansion plans in half and only built into the properties they already own, the property values in Manhattanville are still going to skyrocket.

    The residents will eventually be displaced. The only question is if you want their buildings to be replaced with research labs or H+Ms. Harlem is already gentrifying, if anybody else has noticed. It sucks, but that's what living with a (mostly) free housing market entails.

    I'd personally rather see a university than a shopping center in manhattanville.

  20. Kyle  

    "...just don't make others foot the bill for your extravagant desires."

    It's an "extravagant desire" to want to stay in your own neighborhood?

    "And nobody jump down my throat calling me some right wing radical, understand the situation before you work yourself into a fervor. This has nothing to do with race. This has everything to do with economic class, which is something that anyone can reach out of and into the next tier with some hard work, perseverance, and dedication."

    This is typical of some of the few that do make it into a higher class and make the mistake of assuming everyone else can climb that same mountain, not considering that they are the exception. There's something seriously wrong with the implication here that many Harlemites don't *already* work hard and try to reach "the next tier." What an assumption-laden rant. Not every family can incur that much debt, not every situation can be as relatively seamless as your own. Like you, I'm one of those "stories" that made it into the "next tier" but no way were all the people or living situations in my neighborhood equipped to make the same sacrifices or even in the same position to consider them. We are the exception, not the rule and it's not because we worked harder than the rest.

  21. Alum

    Why does Alma Mater attract so many bitter complainers?

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

    Nobody forced anyone to apply to Columbia - nobody forced anyone to accept the offer of admission. Why do those who work so hard to be admitted arrive on campus to tear down the institution?

    Expansion is necessary - no, mandatory - for Columbia to maintain its status as a leading world institution of higher education. If you want your Columbia degree to mean something in the marketplace of ideas in the future - you owe it to the university to support this plan.

    If Columbia and its power structure is so offensive to you, why did you even apply? One could make the argument that by choosing to apply to and attend a private university - as opposed to CCNY, for instance - you support the university's stance of 'knowing better than the community'. If you didn't believe that Columbia's paternalism was ultimately good for you - and the city - you never would have considered coming here.

    The only thought left is... did you want to go to H/Y/P but couldn't get in?

    • Kyle  

      That makes about as much sense as "You criticize the government and are therefor anti-American. Why are you even LIVING in this country?" Way to not even address the WAY Columbia is doing this, which, even as someone who is Pro-Expansion myself, is something with which I take issue.

      And the only think I dislike more than Columbia's elitism is Princeton's elitism, but Columbia is the lesser of two evils from my experience. People who have issues with them but still apply and go there may not like it but a degree from one of these private institutions means a leg up after graduation. It doesn't mean we have to like everything they do, or the way they go about doing it.

  22. Hegel  

    Am I the only one focusing on that fugly purple hat in the picture?


    • frumph  

      No, no you are not.

      41 you stepped right into that, come on.

      • Alum  

        Stepped into what, exactly?

        Kyle admits that he is at Columbia because it will give him 'a leg up' after graduation. How does Columbia give him a leg up? By being a superior school than CCNY, Hunter, Hostos, Brooklyn College, et. al. How is Columbia a superior school? It has superior facilities - and is able to attract superior faculty - if not students.

        Making the decision to apply to and attend Columbia, especially in the face of the inherent financial implications - would tend to be seen as, well, ELITIST. Nothing wrong with that - people self-select their peers in such a way for valid, selfish reasons.

        If the university is encouraged to languish in the status quo - it will lose those advantages. Ever wonder why Columbia ISN'T as successful as H/Y/P? Take a look at what happened to this campus in the aftermath of 1968. Everything, from endowment to selectivity plummeted - while our peers seized the day.

        Also, the notion that CHOOSING to attend a private institution with selective admission criteria is equivalent to being born in a sovereign state that has a constitution which assigns rights to its citizens is a poor analogy, at best. Demanding that students have a say in Columbia's expansion plans is not the same as exercising one's First Amendment right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        It's more akin to buying a passenger ticket on United Airlines and demanding to fly the plane.

        Why did the College ever get rid of Logic and Rhetoric?

        • That's just stupid  

          "How is Columbia a superior school? It has superior facilities - and is able to attract superior faculty - if not students."

          Hold it right there. YOU assigned that as the main reason it's superior.

          And you make opposition to the way Columbia is going about expansion = "languishing in the status quo." How did YOU pass Logic and Rhetoric anyway, with the strings of if-then and strawman fallacies that compose your posts? At least TRY to address what people are saying.

  23. Kyle  

    I can actually want my school of choice to be socially responsible or at least as rowan said hold to its own statements while looking forward to improvement. The two things are not as mutually exclusive as you make them out to be. Taking issue with the methodology is not necessarily wanting to doom the school to mediocrity. Jesus. And there are other reasons some of those schools secured the loyalty of their alumni, and some of it involved quotas and preference to their "old american stock."

    More akin to buying a passenger ticket on United Airlines and demanding to fly the plane? You yourself mention the importance of endowments and alumni funding. I'd say that's more personal and financial investment than a ticket. The ticket I bought on United Airlines is does not continue to reflect on me through UA blunders nor will it matter after the flight. What oversimplification all around.

  24. Alum

    Quick Quiz:

    Who should Columbia be responsible to?

    1) The greatest portion of students and alumni who wish to see Columbia as the best possible institution of higher education that it can be.
    2) The infinitely small minority of 18-22 year-old naifs on campus who want the world to be all sunshine and roses... and have an unrealistic notion that things are 'fair.'
    3) The white storage facility owners who are exploiting the passions of people of color in an attempt to extort the university into paying more than fair-market value for dilapidated property.
    4) Rabble-rousing poseurs like Monsignior-Jordi-Reyes-Montblanc-Esq.-IV who seek their name in print as often as possible.

    I'll let you try to figure this one out.

    Are you really so narcissistic to believe that people will hold any decisions made by the Columbia administration against you, personally? Ever?

    I can want my NHL team of choice to win the Stanley Cup every year. After all, I invest money in tickets and merchandise... and they represent the city I grew up in... Unfortunately, I don't get to decide whether that happens or not...

    You are a purchaser of a commodity called a college education. You are not entrusted with the fiduciary responsibilities of the seventh-largest private employer in New York City. Leave such decisions to the professional managers hired for their experience and concentrate on getting your degree. Getting into Columbia doesn't make you an expert on all matters, yet.

  25. jjjiiee  

    Why bother with a quiz when you are painting your own reality there, buddy. Of course, it's all about a bunch of idealistic "The infinitely small minority of 18-22 year-old naifs on campus" and a bunch of storage facilities. It's like "hey, let's discuss this strictly within the parameters I set, based solely on 'facts' I pull out of my ass." Columbia wouldn't be having this difficult a time getting what it wants if it the situation overall was as generally inconsequential as you claim.

    • Alum

      Actually, the facts above are more accurate than those presented at the rally.

      The neighborhood in dispute provides de minimus services to the entire community. There are few, if any, storefronts that are open past 5 p.m. There are a couple of gas stations, some chop shops, a bus depot and limited housing stock. Food service is limited, and for the most part, non-nutritive.

      In other words, it's a mostly useless, uninhabitable parcel of land, as is. The healthiest, most successful establisments of the area are the yuppie-leaning Fairway Market and Dinosaur BBQ.

      The notion that Columbia, alone, is responsible for the gentrification of Manhattan is laughable to the extreme. NYU has remade Greenwich Village to its liking, and the Meatpacking District has been Carrie Bradshawed to death.

      Furthermore, those that would claim that gentrification is NOT in Columbia's best interest, don't have Columbia's best interest in mind.

      As someone who attended Alma Mater in the days of Chock Full o'Nuts and Moon Palace - I can say without a doubt that gentrification is one of the reasons that Columbia College has become the selective, elitist mostly meritocratic club that it is.

      One of the reasons for Columbia's mediocre standing in the 1970s and 1980s was the urban blight that was caused by the New York City fiscal crisis. If you attend the school now, you are way too young to remember 'Ford to City: Drop Dead.' Those of us who lived through the dark days of graffiti-ridden IRT cars and the installation of insurance company-mandated iron gates on every Manhattan storefront would rather not return to that era and way of life.

      Columbia is more attractive now because New York is more attractive. Columbia is offering to return the favor to its home city, and some socialist ne'er-do-wells (most likely born and raised in the suburbs) would like to stand in the way.

      Color me unimpressed

      • sorry, wait...  

        Elitist is a good thing?

        And who said Columbia is solely responsible for the gentrification of Manhattan. If anything, your point about NYU supports the idea that Columbia could be responsible for a pretty tremendous impact on West Harlem.

        Were you at the rally? I think it might help you out a bit to hear that the student platform at least is not anti-expansion, but simply asks Columbia to expand in a more transparent and equitable way. It's about the process and about what Columbia does to mitigate the immediate displacement it will be causing.

        Do have to wonder about your time in logic and rhetoric, also in those lessons on listening back in kindergarten.

  26. dudeferreal  

    Who said any of that is right. It's like "Let me completely ignore everything said in opposition and erect my own arguments just to knock em down."

    I didn't want to be snide, but yeah I was wondering the same...what the hell, alum, you took Logic and Rhetoric and the best you can do is set fire to your own strawmen?

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