What’s up next
Written by Bwog Staff
Wednesday was a big day. Thursday, though, might be even bigger: striker kids (whom this UCLA student thinks are great) have scheduled a rally at the Sundial at noon in preparation for their final negotiations. While it seems that the three academic components have been largely straightened out, expansion has yet to be settled–and the hunger strikers have promised to go on hungering until those demands are in the bag. At a meeting this afternoon, the strike negotiation team presented six demands to Executive VP Maxine Griffith, who said responded with variations on “no,” “we’re working on it,” and “I’ll get back to you on that.” The negotiators’ points, which will be presented again at a meeting toda at 4:00 PM in the IRC, are posted after the jump.
Meanwhile, about 650 people aren’t OK with that. Leaders of the anti-striker movement have called a “silent gathering” for tomorrow at 8:30 PM at Alma Mater (too late?) to protest the administration’s concessions.
Pictured is Professor Dennis Dalton, who hasn’t eaten since last Thursday, speechifying on the Sundial at the rally tonight. He told the assembled students, as quiet as if the steps were seats in a lecture hall, all about the successful movement for divestment from South Africa in 1985. “Again and again the students have been right,” he said, over his 39 year tenure at the University. “We have a tradition here at Columbia, and that tradition has to be upheld, and that tradition is to nonviolently protest injustice on this campus.” The movement has a granddad!
Finally, since we didn’t mention it earlier today, SGA’s statement on the strike is also posted after the jump, in Bwog’s third edition of the Hunger Strike Primary Source reader.
STRIKE COMMITTEE EXPANSION DEMANDS
Point 1 Columbia has a responsibility, as stated in the EIS, to mitigate the impact caused by the proposed actions. The body with which the university has committed to negotiating with is the West Harlem Local Development Corporation. However, the university has also reached agreements with other entities on issues of community benefits, most recently and prominently Borough President Scott Stringer, who has a representative on the LDC body. We demand that the University commit to, in writing and on the record, negotiating community benefits exclusively with the LDC, excluding any separate agreements with individual politicians, including but not limited to those politicians represented on the LDC.
Point 2 The agreement reached with Borough President Stringer is problematic on many levels. First, demand a clarification on what exactly is proposed. Is it a loan or a grant? When does the money get transferred and how does that happen?
Secondly, with an estimate of $200,000 per creation of each affordable unit, this would create 100 units in an area with 5,035 people living in unsubsidized housing. This is an extremely low floor in negotiating an anti-displacement program with the LDC, especially given the cost and potential profit of the project. The students demand that a far more significant commitment to affordable housing be a part of any agreement with the LDC and that Columbia come to the board with a number that mitigates the full effect of its project.
Point 3 Columbia has pledged officially to relocated the tenants living under the TIL program to equivalent housing. This is a positive step. We demand that any relocation occur as a result of direct agreement with the tenant affected and not through an agreement of property transfer with any city agency or outside entity.
Point 4 Columbia needs to take eminent domain off the table for the commercial property-owners in the area and reach agreements with them on an individual basis, even if that implies that they are to stay there in a revised development scenario.
Point 5 Using funding specifically earmarked for the expansion plans or fundraised independently of existing efforts, Columbia should develop and financially empower those parts of the university that provide community programming. The university should provide resources for the development of new programs in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Double Discovery Center, Community Impact and other university institutions that would provide services for both students and community members.
Point 6 Columbia is one of the foremost educational institutions in the country and the world. As part of its expansion, we feel that the university has a responsibility to the community it is effecting, not merely to its own constituency. This responsibility is profound and goes beyond the Secondary School proposal. Students demand that local students be granted access to Columbia resources, including libraries and course auditing privileges. We also call for a scholarship admission program for CB9 residents, and for a comprehensive educational complex that would serve the community’s needs, including not only K-12 education but also an infant and pre-K school, a health clinic, and an adult education service. This should be funded directly by the university. The university’s resources are vast and can be shared more broadly.