Update, 3:00 PM: The Dems, who were not consulted in the reporting of this post (to Bwog’s discredit) have some additions and clarifications after the jump.


The College Democrats, who collaborated with several anti-war groups (Students for Justice in the Middle East, the Working Families Party, Lucha, World Can’t Wait, and the ISO) on sending people down to DC last week, are done with all this left wing solidarity: Dems President Mike Nadler just sent an e-mail announcing that his group would pull out of the coalition’s next event, a walkout planned for February 15 (the anniversary of the massive walkouts in 2003). David Judd of the ISO had this to say:

“The Dems have decided to not participate as a club in the walkout and rally, though individual members will do so. they have left because of ideological differences which could not be reconciled despite much effort to do so. the remaining members of the coalition are disappointed with this decision and continue to hope that the Democrats will reconsider. the walkout and rally will continue, and the Columbia Coalition Against the War believes that it will be very successful. a broad spectrum of groups and individuals are still participating in planning, student strikes are moving forward on a national level with endorsements by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, the latter delivered at Columbia yesterday, and we are all very excited to take concrete action against the war on the 15th.”

Both sides are staying mum to avoid a public shit show, but one person less personally invested gave Bwog the backstory. In a nutshell, the groups parted ways over how to request that Columbia study divestment from certain defense contractors to protest the war. Representatives of the Coalition groups compromised on only three companies (Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin, which constitute $4.3 out of Columbia’s $836 million in public holdings) for the duration of the war, but the Dems said no. The Coalition reps declined to say definitively what they would recommend to their groups, which the Dems took as a sign of bad faith, finally pulling out of the deal altogether.

Is this how it’s like in the real world?

Full announcement from Dems Board after the jump.



“Over the past week, representatives from the Columbia University College Democrats have met with representatives from the ISO, Students for Justice in the Middle East, LUCHA, Working Families Party, and World Can’t Wait. We did so in a spirit of optimistic  cooperation, hopeful that we could build on the success of our joint trip to Washington D.C. for an anti-war rally. There was much positive discussion between the groups, but despite good faith efforts and compromise on the part of all groups involved, we were not able to reconcile our fundamental ideological differences. As such, we will not be participating in the student walkout and rally

planned for February 15th.

As Democrats, we call upon Congress to wield its legislative authority to bring this unjust war to a close.  We will continue to work to promote dialogue and empower students to advocate for real alternatives to the administration’s failed policy in Iraq.

If you have any questions or concerns, please come talk to me, or to other members of the Dems’ board, at our body meeting Wednesday night, and we will try our best to address them.


Mike Nadler

President, Columbia University College Democrats

Columbia College, Class of 2007”

And, from Dems Public Affairs Director Jacob Taber:

1) Divestment wasn’t the issue.  At several meetings last week it had been taken firmly off the table, and we were concerned that it (and other key sticking points) were continually being brought up for renewed discussion.  In addition, we didn’t walk because of divestment – we walked because the assembled members could not (or rather, would not) agree to to tell us where they stood on the issue; without openness there is no trust, and without trust there is certainly no coalition
2) The Coalition “compromise” wasn’t to limit it to specific groups – that was absolutely something never communicated to the Dems.  The compromise was to call for study rather than demand divestment, and to call for it only for the duration of the war.  The Democrats are anti-war, and not anti-military (we don’t want tanks in Iraq, but we do think that someone needs to make tanks because they do need to be used legitimately on occasion), and as such we are very wary about any calls for divestment from defense contractors. In addition, at least one corporation discussed is also involved in rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and we felt that pulling our investment from that company sent the wrong message.
3) We weren’t going to get involved in this blame game – as you’ll  note in the Spec story, I declined to comment on the reason for our breakup to keep things civil.  Obviously, though,  not all sides were into the whole civility thing, and given that we’re being attacked for our spinelessness for refusal to protest corporate interests, I’d like to get a few things straight: The Democrats, ultimately, have a philosophy that is entirely distinct from and opposed to that of most of the other groups, and that is why we walked.  We advocate change within the system, however imperfect it may be.  while we know it will be difficult to force Congress to act, we think it’s ridiculous that there are groups who feel it inappropriate to ask Congress to do anything, ‘because Congress is part of the problem’ — like it or not, they are the only ones (besides the President who isn’t going to do anything) with the power to end this thing, and a failure to recognize that point was a major source of frustration for the Dems.  While we tried to forge common ground, it’s incredibly difficult to work with a group that considers your group to be pro-war and a part of the problem, and is intent on spreading an Anti-Democratic message whenever possible, even to the point of obscuring the larger and clearly more important anti-war message.
4) We’re not “done with all this left-wing solidarity”.  The Democrats are committed absolutely to working with more policy-oriented members of the Campus Left (i.e. ACLU rather than LUCHA), in a coalition that better reflects our commitment to effecting meaningful change.