Striker news: Quigs responds, CCSC endorses (sort of)
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog’s inbox is abuzz with declarations, communiques, and plans regarding the encampment on Striker Lawn (although the strikers themselves are now tucked away in Malcolm X lounge, safe from the damp). You should have all received the first tidbit, from Deans Quigley and Dirks: an enumeration of what they’re already doing to address the general spirit of the 13 Demands, minus the expansion part, which is being dealt with in separate meetings. Briefly summarized: reviews are in the works, and student voices considered.
CCSC, in a surprise move, also released a statement declaring support for a watered down, less specific version of the strikers’ demands. You can skip the awkwardly worded introductory paragraph, which says very little of substance, but check out their support for mandatory anti-oppression training, a Vice Provost for Multicultural Affairs, and the departmentalization of both CSER and IRAAS. Also note that, while a Committee has been researching the expansion for about a year now, “the council is not in a position to take a position on the expansion this semester.” Would you like to expand on that?
No word yet from PrezBo, although he did send out a university-wide e-mail today regarding graduate student teaching awards. President Shapiro, of course, sent out a statement last Wednesday, noting that “while hunger strikes have a long and important history as a form of political action, they are not without their dangers and may not always be a necessary strategy in a particular situation.” The full e-mail, as with the abovementioned documents, are posted in our Hunger Strike Primary Source Reader after the jump.
Meanwhile, Gawker finds eating disorders to be the most newsworthy part about the whole affair (while noting that Ivygate took down its post of a few days ago that ran with a pro-ana photo). Finally, if you notice that classmates look a little more wan than usual on Wednesday, they may be abstaining as well: those who didn’t want to undertake the strike whole hog are fasting from 6:30 AM until 8:45 in the evening.
November 12, 2007
The University is already taking initiatives and conducting reviews in many of the areas you raise for discussion. We will include concerned students in these processes, along with other students already involved. We will also invite them to meet with standing faculty committees whose current deliberations bear directly on some of the matters at issue.
In the first instance it needs to be recognized that the faculty are in charge of the academic curriculum through the standing departmental and interdepartmental committees. Administrators convene many of these meetings, we are confident the faculty will wish to hear from all concerned students, and we will arrange for them to do so.
(i) CSER – IRAAS and related issues
As a result of regular meetings this fall between Claudio Lomnitz, Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER) and Nicholas Dirks, Vice President for Arts and Sciences, and as part of ongoing meetings with concerned students about the future of Ethnic Studies that began in the spring of 2007, the following new investments have been made. First, a search committee for senior positions in Ethnic Studies has been authorized to recruit up to three senior faculty from its current interdepartmental search. Second, the recruitment of a scholar in Native American Studies has been authorized. Third, one senior hire in the field of African American studies is currently being conducted by IRAAS. Fourth, incremental resources have been committed both for programs directly conducted by CSER and for the development of a collaborative programmatic relationship between CSER and two other units: the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWAG).
Finally, we have committed to a review of CSER by the Academic Review Committee. This review will include in its mandate relationships between CSER, IRAAS, and IRWAG. Although student participation is a routine part of these academic reviews, we will ensure that student voices will play an especially important role in this review given the particular history of CSER as the outgrowth of student interests, concerns, and activism.
Major investments over the last three years, totaling now over $20 million, have been directed specifically to increasing the diversity of the faculty in the Arts and Sciences, and many of the faculty hired through this initiative have already begun to work closely with CSER, IRAAS, IRWAG, as well as with other units on campus that contribute broadly to the work and concerns of these units (including new programs in the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP), and the re-opening and strengthening of the Institute for African Studies).
(ii) Core Curriculum
President Bollinger convened a major Task Force on Undergraduate Education in the autumn of 2006. The Task Force is made up of senior faculty and administrators along with student leaders, and has undertaken an extensive review of the entire undergraduate curriculum and experience. Four working committees have been established, on the structure of the curriculum, on the issues around teaching and learning in Columbia classrooms, on the challenges of globalization for the undergraduate experience, and on science. As part of this review, the Core curriculum is being re-examined, in particular the kinds of requirements it entails in relationship to majors and electives, the demands it makes on instruction, the relationship it has to a changing world, and the demands this world makes on what students should learn and encounter during their undergraduate years.
There is already widespread agreement that the Major Cultures component of the Core needs to be strengthened, bringing it into parity in terms of classroom size and curricular importance with other parts of the Core. At the same time, the Major Cultures section of the Core is also currently under review as part of the work of the Committee on the Core. Though students already sit on some of these committees, further arrangements will be made to enable concerned students to address these committees and contribute to their deliberations. Two of your representatives are invited to the next meeting of the Committee of the Core tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM.
Last month, Dean Nair informed student leaders that Leadership Consulting Associates has been engaged to assist the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Division of Student Affairs to conduct a review of the OMA and its services. This consulting firm was involved with recent reviews of both the Center for Career Education and the Center for Student Advising. These reviews have resulted in the development of action plans to enhance student services, hire and train new staff, and establish the need for additional space.
The OMA review process will incorporate a wide range of student voices, including yours, along with those of alumni and staff. It will also include data already collected from multiple student surveys, program assessments, and strategic planning done by the staff of OMA. The review will result in an action plan for the further development of the office.
In the light of your concerns, this review will be extended to incorporate consideration of the need for, and possible function of, a Multi-Cultural Affairs officer at a higher level.
Expansion plans for the Inter-Cultural Resource Center and Inter-Cultural House continue to move forward, as students involved in the planning are aware.
The annual orientation program for new faculty will incorporate more extensive discussion of diversity issues.
The Office of Public Safety will take responsibility for disseminating information about hate crimes in our community. There is already a protocol for reporting such incidents to the Office of Public Safety, which then reports them to the undergraduate Student Affairs Deans.
We hope you will agree that the points made above are consistent with the views and aspirations of the concerned students you represent, that they can serve to bring these discussions to a speedy conclusion, and that our students can return to their residence halls and classes.
To the Barnard Community –
Among the issues of concern to students beginning their strike today is one that is common to Barnard and Columbia: the extent to which we are failing to live up to our diversity aspirations.
I share our students’ deep concern over recent incidents of hate and bias and also, as you know from previous communications, feel that we must attend to everyday patterns of behavior that maintain barriers between students of different backgrounds. I look forward to Barnard’s joining with Columbia and Teacher’s College to participate with the City Council in the “Day Out Against Hate”. We must all hope that the intense attention this day will bring to issues of inter-group strife and intolerance will provide the inspiration to maintain our focus in an ongoing way in the days that follow.
In terms of curricular issues, the Barnard Trustee Committee on Diversity, which includes faculty and student members, recently had occasion to discuss whether our General Education Requirements in such areas as Social Analysis, Cultures in Comparison, and Reason and Value might better prepare students to confront issues of difference in as knowledgeable as way as possible. This will, of course, be part of the ongoing work of Barnard’s Committee on Instruction, which has four student members.
Barnard’s Student Government Association recently sponsored a Town Hall that provided a good venue for airing these issues. I welcome further suggestions from the SGA about how to proceed with additional activities and conversations that can play a productive role in our campus life
A final word: while hunger strikes have a long and important history as a form of political action, they are not without their dangers and may not always be a necessary strategy in a particular situation. I am hoping that we can together strengthen our efforts to making the changes we need to make in our community.
The Columbia College Student Council would like to address the current state of the Columbia Campus. We feel that it is important to acknowledge the history of activism and student protest that have served to the betterment of Columbia, while also acknowledging that there are many different views about the type of protest that is currently taking place. CCSC would like to express its concern for the health of the strikers and wants it to be made known that we will continue to be involved, wherever appropriate, in finding a peaceful resolution to the situation on campus. The events of the last five weeks have had such a large impact on the student body that CCSC has been working extensively to address the issue of hate crimes and bias incidences. With that said, CCSC wishes to look at the issues that are currently at hand and inform the student body of what we voted to support at our most recent meeting. We will be publicizing the recent events in order to inform the greater student body. Many of these issues have been bought up in the past and have not been followed through on. We would like to stress the seriousness of these issues as they pertain to the improving of our University. We will follow up on these issues by working with administrators and students to develop policy initiatives and resolutions, as well as a structure of accountability, to make sure that there is sufficient follow through in this area. We invite student input as we take these steps and it is our hope that they come to us with their ideas. Not only do these issues need to be addressed broadly, they need to be addressed on specific levels. If you read below, you will see the specific goals that CCSC plans to work towards this year.
The Core Curriculum, CCSC Advocates for…
The reformation of the Major Cultures requirement to contain a variety of courses in a seminar format.
More student voices and seats for the Committee on the Core and the Committee on Instruction, as well as voting power for students on both committees, and that their process of selection be better publicized.
Ethnic Studies: CCSC advocates…
Support and autonomy for Ethnic Studies and the departmentalization of the Center for Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Institute for Research in African American Studies
Administrative Reform: CCSC Advocates that…
Columbia’s Public Safety announce instances of hate crimes when they are reported and issue an annual report of reported bias incidents and hate crimes and how they have been addressed. A clear definition of what a bias incident is
The expansion of the Office of Multicultural Affairs with more communication and collaboration between the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Columbia and the Multicultural Affairs Office at Barnard
The hiring of a Vice-Provost of Multicultural Affairs to administer and direct University policies affecting students within all of the schools of the University
Mandatory anti-Oppression training for all incoming faculty and public safety, with full day workshops, on the level “under1roof”, on issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, power and privilege.
The Columbia College Student Council has been doing research and gathering information on the expansion through its expansion committee. The council is not in a position to take a position on the expansion this semester.