Tempest in a Teacup: lightning-fast guide to scandals, controversies, and dustups
Written by Bwog Staff
OK, not really. We don’t feel like rehashing Spec’s summary of recent brouhahas, which is a rehash of last year’s article on the subject (plus the Minuteman thing, which prompted this must-read). But they missed the older ones, which are sort of important to understanding everything that comes after.
Ancient History (1968)
This is where Columbia got its name—since debunked by decades of relative apathy—for radical campus activism. Spurred by Columbia’s ties to the defense establishment and its proposal to build a gym over Morningside Park (which would have had Jim Crow-style separate entrances for University affiliates and for the community), the Student Afro Society and Students for a Democratic Society (led by Mark Rudd, whom Bwog caught up with last spring after an SDS chapter dubiously restarted on campus) decided in April 1968 to occupy several campus buildings including Hamilton Hall and the President’s own office. Pictures from a Newsweek cover story of scruffy young men (this is pre-female-integration) kicking back in President Grayson Kirk’s chair, feet on the table and cigars in hand, shocked the nation. Wikipedia, as usual, has the details.
Fast forward a few decades…the Ethnic Studies fight
Aside from a few more Hamilton barricades over South African apartheid in the 1970s and 80s, the next big dust-up occurred in 1996, when 100 students barricaded Hamilton (it must be easy to take over), 23 were arrested attempting to blockade Low, and three went on a 15-day hunger strike to demand the creation of an Ethnic Studies department. They failed. Their modern protégés are still trying.