LGBTQ Students in the Zone with Quigley, Friedman, Colombo

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A smattering of students and a sea of empty chairs confronted Deans Quigley, Colombo, and Friedman (SEAS) about the noose incident at an event this afternoon sponsored by the Columbia Queer Alliance.

The small showing was probably due to the time – noon on a Thursday – and also because the admins agreed to show up on short notice. Bwog itself received a statement announcing the event at 1:23 a.m. this morning.

Organizers decided to merge their scheduled event to unveil a new “safe-zone” campaign with a session of firmly posed questions from the few students present– and mostly plain vanilla answers from the administrators.

Students wanted to know specifics — in what kind of time frame they could expect to hear from administrators with progress reports on the hate crime front, what tangible things administrators now realize they could have done better to create safe spaces for students. Administrators had palpably reassuring, but vague responses.

In his germane way, Quigley acknowledged that administrators should have let students know about the incident sooner, and that Columbia’s policy on hate crimes should be more widely known. In his less-germane way, Colombo said he would like to better “demonstrate to the community we are here to support them.” And Friedman, SEAS’s Quigley, said the three men in collared shirts and ties behind the panel ran “an open shop.”

When students asked why they heard about the noose from student groups and listsevs and not from administrators, Colombo stumbled, explaining he may wear his Blackberry on his belt at all hours, but that not everyone in the administration does. “You guys start your days at a variety of hours,” he said.

But perhaps they are learning. After office hours today when news of the anti-Semetic graffiti in Lewisohn hit, Quigley sent his delicate prose response merely minutes after President Bollinger —
CQA who is himself feeling the heat of student criticism on this point.

At the end of the hour, students had a few commitments to transparency, tolerance, and inclusion to hold on to, and a new symbol to plaster around the school to signify safe-spaces, and perhaps the goal to blanket the campus in one large safe-space symbol.


Statement by the CQA after the jump…

Dear friends,

We are following up on the statement we issued yesterday regarding the

hate crimes at Teachers College. We thank everyone for the e-mails

they sent to [email protected], and the telephone calls to the

university switchboard at (212)854-1754. We urge you to continue

e-mailing President Bollinger and calling to ensure that the demands

of students at Teachers College and Columbia University be met.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said no direct action is ever “well-timed”. He

also said that there is a time when silence can mean betrayal. These

words and ideas came from a man who also said that injustice anywhere

is a threat to justice everywhere. With this in mind, queer student

leaders have worked with Queer Awareness Month, the Office of

Multicultural Affairs and the Office of the University Chaplain to

broaden the scope of Coming Out Day at Columbia.

Today, at 12PM sharp (Thursday, Oct. 11) in Lerner Hall’s Roone

Alredge auditorium, students will have the opportunity to hear from

Columbia administrators (Dean Austin Quigley and Dean Chris Colombo),

who will discuss Columbia’s recent response to these hate crimes. More

importantly, students will have the opportunity to ask their own

questions, and have their concerns addressed as well as to petition

administrators to be more proactive. No matter how much discourse or

statements are produced by these hate crimes, in the end, we either

have safety or we don’t. We believe it is important for everyone at

Columbia, not just the LGBTQ community, but the community-at-large to

be visible and present at this event and we are asking everyone to

forward this information as widely as possible. It is crucial that we

speak truth to power and we will no longer stand silent reacting to

events as they happen, but rather we must examine ways in which such

incidents can be prevented or better handled.

Subsequently, Queer Awareness Month and the Chaplain’s Office has

postponed Queer Common Meal. In its place tonight will be a Common

Meal entitled “United Against Hate”, with a broad focus on all types

of violence, bias and bigotry at Columbia. The LGBT community will be

attending this event, and we invite you to join us at 6PM-7:30PM

(Thursday, Oct. 11) at Earl Hall auditorium. It is critical that we be

as visible as possible in this important dialog and process that is

taking place between students and administrators at this university.

Please try to attend at least one of these events so we can stand

together and stand united against all forms of bigotry and violence on

this campus. We have enclosed a PDF flyer if you would like to print

some out and post some around campus, but we have found that

information is more effectively conveyed through e-mail and word of


If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]. As

always, we promise to keep you informed and updated and we thank you

for endless love and support. We will close this e-mail with a quote

from Audre Lorde. Thank you, and have a wonderful National Coming Out


“There is no hierarchy of oppression. I know I cannot afford the

luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to

believe that, freedom from intolerance is the right of only one

particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts

upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they

appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to

destroy you.”

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1 Comment

  1. xyz  

    According to the Safe Zone Program sign up:

    "All people will be treated and respected as human beings."

    Well who would have know!

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