Nov

16

IT’S (NOT) OVER!

Written by

Going by the tone of tonight’s candlelight vigil (and counter-protest), the fact that the hunger strike has ended doesn’t change anything. The strikers still plan on holding vigils every night at 9. They still plan on camping out on the lawn between College Walk and Butler. And, as speakers and attendees to tonight’s vigil reiterated, they definitely haven’t forgotten about Manhattanville. Said one student, “this is phase two.”

As for the end of phase one: pre-vigil, the feeling among hunger-strike supporters was an almost unqualified sense of having accomplished something important. When asked if the lack of progress on Manhattanville and the failure to produce any spectacular, immediate concessions lessened the impact of the strike, Political Science professor Dennis Dalton suggested that the discussion started by the protest was its most important result. “I’m feeling very happy,” said Dalton. “[This is] a time to discuss our cause, and to add a whole new dimension to the discourse.”

By around 9:15, a group of about a half-dozen counter-protesters had gathered opposite the sundial. You’d think the anti-hunger strikers would have been happy to see the hunger strike end. Not so: “the strike isn’t ending in response to students,” said Josh Mathew, C’09, citing CB9’s statement of disapproval as a larger factor than the opinions of the students the strikers professed to be representing. Aga Sablinska, C’09, added that the counter-effort will still be going on: on the anti-strike Facebook group she created, she posted that “further plans of action (not by me, by others) are being formed right now.”

The vigil was billed as a celebration of the hunger strikers and all that they had accomplished during an undoubtedly rough 10 days without food. The hunger-strikers spoke first: Just about all of them thanked the students and the community for their support, and vowed to continue the fight for “ethical expansion.” Brian Mercer, C ’07 read an excerpt from Stoakley Carmichal’s autobiography (written, confusingly enough, by Oscar Wilde); after him, an older man arrested during the 1968 protests elicited cheers when he said that his daughter was one of the people who had occupied Hamilton Hall during the 1996 hunger strike.

 

Striker Richard Brown’s speech more or less epitomized what the night was about: brandishing an unopened Twix, he explained how the unity of the two chocolate bars within was a metaphor for the shared fate of the student body and their greater community. While his tone was light-hearted and celebratory, he remained on message. And with so many of the speakers alluding to the hunger strike as a “movement” or a “revolution” (said one hunger striker, “the day after the revolution is as important as the revolution itself”), it was clear that supporters viewed the week’s events as a starting point. But for what?

Dennis Dalton didn’t go into specifics about that–but he did thank students for their support, and said that Wednesday night’s protest was the best nonviolent action he had ever participated in at Columbia; Aretha Choi spoke next, and said that Bwog commenters had briefly made her “utterly scared of the student body.”

As with every other vigil this week, participants observed a moment of silence, during which the counter-protesters folded up their signs out of respect. Although they stayed behind and chatted with journalists, the vigil proceeded to the Low steps, where the hunger strikers led the crowd in a chant: “It is our duty to fight!” they screamed. “It is our duty to win! We have nothing to lose but fear!” Hunger striker April Simpson, C’11, closed the rally with an update on the Bob Marley song “War:” “We are confident in victor of good over evil,” she sang. “There’s a war. Until that day, Columbia University will not have peace.”

The hunger strikers broke their fast at the sundial moments later with bread and Gatorade. “Food!” one screamed excitedly; amidst the hugs and tears one striker gave a pretty succinct–not to mention candid–read on things: “this has been so insane,” she said “and now we have to do it all over again.” One Harlem resident opined along similarly cryptic grounds, suggesting that the University had fatally mishandled the situation. “How they’re really in trouble,” she said. “They’ve made the biggest blunder in the world.”

So the hunger strikers are optimistic in spite of forcing limited concessions and making admittedly little progress on Manhattanville; meanwhile the counter-protesters were pessimistic in spite of the hunger-strike being over. Could the punishing, sub-freezing mid-November cold have contributed to this no doubt counter-intuitive “conclusion” to the hunger strike? Probably not, although lost in all the giddy, frostbitten celebration of a hunger-strike well done was the question of whether anyone will pay attention now that the stakes (y’know, not eating and all of its resulting physical effects) are considerably lower.

 

-ARR

-Pictures and additional reporting by JJV

——————————————————————————————

In case you’re wondering what the hunger-strikers themselves had to say about the end of the hunger strike, here ya go:

 

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

November 16, 2007

*Tonight all remaining Columbia hunger strikers will break their fast*

In response to the concerns of the Coalition to Preserve Community and prominent community members for the Columbia University hunger strikers’ health, the remaining hunger strikers will break their fast at tonight’s 9pm vigil. Although, at the urging of community members, they will change their form of protest, the individuals who have been on strike and those who have mobilized around this movement are committed to continuing their struggle for an ethical expansion by Columbia into West Harlem.

Negotiations on the strikers’ demands relating to Columbia’s expansion took place yesterday. The administration’s response to student demands was patronizing, and led to nothing but a restating of the university’s current positions, demonstrating continual resistance to engaging in constructive discussion with its students. Ryan Fukumori, CC’09 and a student negotiator, noted that, on the issue of expansion, “This administration is in a moral crisis when its financial interests surpass the greater needs of the community.” He added, “Despite significant advancements made in the areas of administrative and curricular reform, we have unfortunately not seen the same cooperative attitude from administrators on the topic of expansion.”

Community members have expressed their greatest appreciation for the student movement that escalated into a hunger strike ten days ago. The administration’s appreciation for the community is less apparent: community members were asked by present officials to leave the gathering of silent observers at yesterday’s negotiation. It had been agreed at student insistence that negotiations would be made public, but it had not been explicitly specified whether community members were included in this agreement.

Students maintained their resolve over their demands regarding Columbia’s expansion. The points brought by students to the negotiations yesterday were compromises from the students’ original positions. Demands include: that Columbia take eminent domain completely off the table; that it promise to negotiate with tenants and the Local Development Corporation rather than landlords and city politicians; and that resources be allocated to creating affordable housing for the 5035 people who are living in unsubsidized housing in the area of expansion.

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64 Comments

  1. normal columbian  

    shoot me in the head.

    i hate these kids. spoiled, self-indulgent. it can't be said enough.

  2. thanks  

    Thank you to the hunger strikers for raising relevant issues to the forefront of campus debate

    • just the opposite  

      I'd say it's more likely the hunger strikers had the opposite effect of what they intended. I mean, if your methods are over-the-top and ill thought out, isn't the uninitiated student more likely to conclude that to protest over those issues to begin with is also over-the-top and ill thought out?

  3. props  

    Big Ups to Emilie, Bryan, Victoria, Sam, Aretha, Rich, April, and Prof Dalton.

    • I hope

      they reap full consequences of when they try to pull this shit in the real world

      with the exception of dalton..whose chosen the safety of brow beating 18 year olds in an insulated bubble to challenge himself for the rest of his meaningless life

  4. Great  

    The aftermath: Increasingly difficult and interrupted programming for legitimate student groups and activists, genuinely trying to make the world a better place. Student rights are only going to suffer because of these selfish bastards. Why don't they people just shrivel away and die.

  5. normal columbian  

    I am proud to be a columbia student and proud to be at a university where people stand up for their beliefs. Thank you hunger strikers

  6. kumbah yah  

    I didn't support the hunger strike and I'm really glad to hear it's over. I still don't really understand why its over. What exactly changed from this morning to tonight?

    Anyway, I hope that the anti-strike dudes' question get answered publicly. Although if the strike's over, does it even matter at this point?

    peace guys, let's heal.

  7. haters  

    yall just wish you had half the guts and determination. Love to the hunger strikers and their supporters

    • Uh-huh  

      what we apparently lack in guts and determination, we make up in intellect. I don't know about you, but the way Lit-Hum and CC was taught to me suggested a progression away from conservative, imperialistic and pro-colonial thinking. For every Augustine, there was a Montaigne. For every Aristotle, there was a Dubois. Even Virgil and Homer were subtly critiquing Roman and Greek violence. Most professors I know in CC/Lit-Hum are atheists or agnostics, and criticized the role of dominant Christianity-based imperialism. From what I remember, optional texts for my CC class included Gandhi, Said, Voltaire, Fanon, etc. Even the core texts were very progressive in the second semester.

      Even the dead-white-man, irrelevant in today's world argument, etc etc just reflects ignorance and a lack of intelligence on the Strikers' part. I wrote an essay for Lit-Hum relating the Aeneid to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (and it wasn't a bs essay either). So maybe the strikers need to consider that their criticism of the core as 'racist' might just be a function of their misinterpreting the texts, and step aside and & let faculty make the decisions.

    • oh and also ...

      poster 2, 3, 5, 7: a simple click of the "track" button shows that all the posts were made by the same person. we see you. you can stop pretending you're an army of strike supporters now.

      • .......

        HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHA

        That's so pathetic!!!!!!

      • dumbass  

        it could be a bunch of people taking turns commenting on the same computer, dipshit. way to make assumptions ASS MUNCHER

        • hahahha

          why are you so defensive about it? ;)

          but since you want to get all serious and shit, if you look at the times of the posts:

          2 - 11:08pm
          3 - 11:09pm
          5 - 11:10pm
          7 - 11:11pm

          i don't know which scenario is funnier to me: four people lining up at one computer, one quickly writing a comment, then jumping out of the chair for the next person to sit down and quickly write a comment, then jumping out of the chair for the next person to sit down and quickly write a comment, then jumping out of the chair for the next person to sit down and quickly write a comment. or one person repeatedly posting 4 times within 3 minutes on a thread. anyone who does that, regardless of whether they are pro or anti strike, should be aware of the magic of the "track" button and the ridicule that can ensue.


          but on a more serious note, i do appreciate frances coming out to explain her POV. i really do. i still don't agree with a lot of what happened with the strike, first and foremost the whole "good vs evil, right vs wrong" dichotomy that it has created... but nevertheless i agree that the hypocrisy flies both ways. thanks for taking the time to engage in actual conversation here, fjc.

          • i continue

            laughing.

            What the hell kind of explanation is that? Four people lining up to use the same computer... I think whoever put that explanation was one of those "four people" and is now smart enough to move to the next computer over in the lab

  8. capcom  

    FUCK! THEY DIDN'T DIE AFTER ALL!!!

  9. uh huh

    nice choice of lyrics incorporating "good over evil". right, because that is what this debate is all about. strikers = good, anyone questioning strikers = evil. thanks for clearing that up.

  10. hahaha

    its only one kid writing the same comments. Amazing. So glad the strikes over. Screw you strikers. You embarrass and anger me. Go be idiots somewhere far away from me. I hope I never have to hear any one of you glorify yourselves as 'revolutionaries' again. Youre an embarrassment to that term and our school.

  11. hahah tracking  

    2, 3, 5, 7 are the same person

  12. kumbah yah (again)  

    #11, you are a smart dude.

    guys i say we call it quits at this point and heal. I mean those who had beef with the hunger strikers methods but not their demands, you guys can now just support their demands, right? Don't be haters now. Heal people!! That's what I'm trying to do at any rate. Hunger strikers, you guys pissed me off like crazy, I thought it was blackmail, but now that it's over, I can finally support your demands, and i think on this point the campus can now get to consensus. Let's heal!!

    peace brothers and sisters, let's stop insulting each other and move on.

  13. incredible

    good over evil? bwog commentators made you scared for your body?

    don't these strikers understand the irony of how much they sound like neo cons or fascists? and nice try #16. yeah, let them abuse the student body's voice, demand and recieve capitulation by holding teh university and student body hostage without ever even answering questions posed about their demands and kiss and make up and support their fourth more extreme demands which most people on campus don't support (expansion stuff)

    well. i guess there's good precedent for this huh. at the risk of godwining myself i guess appeasement and the munich agreement worked out pretty well for the allies after that whole sudetenland unpleasantness..fascists don't necessarily stay that way right?

    20 bucks #16 is a striker trying to save face and cover up the fact they want to avoid any debate about their past repulsive tactics and claim concensus to avoid questions about the issues posted by nina, et al

  14. Oy...  

    "...an older man arrested during the 1968 protests elicited cheers when he said that his daughter was one of the people who had occupied Hamilton Hall during the 1996 hunger strike."

    This must be stopped. I say we sterilize striking lineages.

  15. nice  

    I'm starting to see the kind of group mentality that defines a fringe cult. Candles, chants, blind agreement on an ignorant and misleading platform. These guys are way too into themselves.

  16. irishmen and dogs  

    A friend made an interesting point about the oppression and colonization class that I believe at least some of the strikers wanted to be a required course for all students: where do you stop the line on what's included in the class? Almost every group has been oppressed at one point or another, whether or not they later oppressed others or are doing so now. There are too many gray areas in our history to make such outright value judgments as are being made. Good versus evil? A war on Columbia? Listen to yourselves. Doesn't that sound a bit too far on the fringe for comfort? And no, just because a large number of people don't agree with you doesn't mean that they are wrong, and ergo evil. There are far too many gray areas to make such assertions.

    And as I think Josh Matthews pointed out, we do have democratic institutions in place on campus to address these problems. Did the strikers try to use these first? Was there any attempt at negotiation that I just didn't hear about, other than the previous commitment by Columbia to hire ethnic studies teachers. This is how you create anarchy. Get your tents off the grass and engage in civil conversation, which you are not having right now. You are arrogating the moral high ground for yourself without having absolute right to it.

  17. Debate + Referendum  

    I'm just going to throw this out here. I think that the best way to resolve the conflicts between groups that are going to arise now, and the huge fallout over the concessions, is a public debate about the concessions, with all sides of each being thoroughly examined, and then an administration sponsored schoolwide vote on each one. The anti-strike "individuals" called for this in their letter, and I think it is the best way. This wouldn't normally happen for administrative decisions, but a select few individuals on campus took actions not necessarily representative of the student body, and the gains from those actions should be decided on by everybody willing to vote. We all deserve a say.

    • representative

      "not necessarily representative?" Juding by the comments posted a few days ago, I would say hardly representative at all. Unless that wasn't a representative sample, or unless the anger against the strikers wasn't largely fueled by disagreement with their goals.

  18. Core difference

    Incidentally, has anyone noticed a discrepancy between the official administration memorandum on the strike and the leaked reports from several days ago, as pertains to the Major Cultures changes? Bwog reported that there were going to be discussion sections with, presumably, a unified CC-like curriculum. But the email from Dirks and Quigley simply states that departments are urged to provide new syllabi, and that section sizes will be reduced. There is a difference here. Am I not right?

  19. coupe coupe bibamba  

    Congrats to the hunger strikers. Much love.

  20. Frances JeffreyCoker  

    Victory!

    I'm glad to see so many angry posts... it means that the hunger strikers have succeeded, or you wouldn't all be so pissed off and hypocritical.

    ...Just some support out to all the pro-hunger strikers out there. I started out on the "other side" until I talked to some of the strikers and my misconceptions were cleared up... thanks for giving me a venue through which to express my disgust for racism and obnoxious people for the past week.

    To be very honest, I would not have so readily latched on to the ideals of the hunger strike had I not been so disturbed by some of the posts I read on bwog... I understand that the vast majority of people weren't racist but a few were and I was truly and deeply offended, and for the first time considered stopping by the Office of Multicultural Affairs to talk about it.

    Seriously, someone said something at the vigil tonight about how the negative obnoxious comments that we have received fuel them to keep striking. FOR REAL thats what's up!! SERIOUSLY if a select few people hadn't been so racist and obnoxious, I definitely wouldn't have thrown myself into the effort. The anti-protesters have the racist jerks in their ranks to thank for the increases in strike supporters....


    Again... holler at my striker peoples... don't over eat... and I'll see you at the next vigil!

    • See,  

      this is exactly the problem. You didn't support the strike on the merit of the issues, nor because they are somehow connected. Your support was an emotional/visceral reaction to (some) racism on campus. But to hold the university hostage to unrelated demands, and to suggest that the undergraduate academic curriculum is in some way connected to hate crimes in Graduate schools, is dangerous & wrong, in my opinion. That is why there has been such an overwhelming counter-response, not because everybody is racist - most counter-strikers agree that these issues are problematic in and of themselves, but they are not connected, and hunger striking is a pathetic response to them.

    • also

      Frances by the same token. The strikers already had a very strong support base when they initiated this. Leaders of Lucha, the ISO, the MSA, the BSO and others had come together to plan this out. As a result they started with a solid number of columbia supporters. The fact that you and a smaller second wave of supporters began to become engaged because of the comments of those who opposed it should raise another question in you mind which any self inquisitive person would think. How is it possible that the anti strikers have at least as many supporters as the strikers if their position and action was never pre planned and spontaneous. Think about it---if you had a number of people at your rallies claim that their involvement was due to the marginalization they felt by certain segements of the anti stirkers--how disheartening is it that your own sides cause, actions and words have cause the entire ant i striker movement pop up out of nothing. The striker movement itself has marginalized students on campus with its inflammatory rhetoric and actions.

      And while you may be compiling a list of 'racist'/'vicious' comments by anti strikers from bwog etc, i can assure you that if we wanted to the anti strikers could do the same from quotes in speeches, bwog comments by purported strikers, and even quotes directly by the strikers (aretha choi has made some comments which have for the first time made me question whether I can really continue to learn at this campus considering the type of environment we're heading towards--one of prepetual polarization).

      This anti striker movement has been born out of the hypocrisy, racism and intolerance of our fellow striking students--there is no clearer example of marginalization out there.

  21. Screw Strikers  

    Are they going to be there for Thanksgiving??? LOl, let us see how long can they last.

  22. Frances JeffreyCoker  

    Thanks for like the first non-obnoxious and rational responses Ive ever received on bwog.

    I have nothing to say to the issue regarding the "hostage" opinion... I can definitely understand why people feel that way. My opinion is that nobody would have paid any attention had they not hunger-striked, but thats just me.

    I did actually support the strike on the merit of the issues... however I only began taking a more active role in it once I was fueled by the racism I experienced. I found the issues and the racism to be linked a vague way.

    • i find it

      funny that you only qualify responses by deeming them non obnoxious and rational when the hunger strike itself lacked either of the two

      remember Frances, there are at least 750 Columbians who now feel marginalized and afraid for their university because of your and the hunger strikers unilateral actions

      they have no benefit of the OMA as they hail from a diverse set of ideologies, backgrounds, ethnicities, geographies, etc

      Your admission that your support was due to a reactionary tendency to associate racism you felt with their much much larger demands suggest that you self admittedly threw all rationality to the wind in your decision to support the strike

      thus its very hard to statements at face value

  23. Frances JeffreyCoker  

    That's true. I dunno. I find its almost like standing up for a kid you dont really know because someone is picking on them... you are mostly motivated by the fact that someone else is acting against your morals.

    I wouldnt say I threw ALL rationality to the wind, because I do support all of their demands... but I'm not going to lie and say that I'm the most rational person ever because I'm definitely not. I like a lot of other girls have some emotional tendencies... =P

    I feel for the marginalized students on campus. The strikers will still have their tents for a limited time so they are welcome to discuss their concerns with them, myself, or members of administration if they feel the need. I'm sure the OMA would be open to any student that wanted to come and speak with them; you don't have to be from a certain background to be fully welcomed. Just come with an open mind.

    • wow frances  

      "I like a lot of other girls have some emotional tendencies... =P"

      Don't try and deflect this by claiming you're a girl. Grow up. Be a woman. Defend your views. I think its funny that a supporter of the group asking for anti-oppression training can say something so oppressive...

  24. Frances JeffreyCoker  

    I guess the lesson I'm taking from this conversation is that we're all pretty much the same... we all kind of reacted emotionally to different sides of the argument and acted accordingly. I mean we're all human and I don't think anyone can say that they react entirely rationally to absolutely anything. If I were rational I wouldnt have paid any attention at all to either side and I would've studied harder for my calc midterm.

    If the anti-striker movement was was born out of hypocrisy and racism, I think it was hypocrisy and racism in both directions. The strike would not have happened if we hadn't found hypocrisy and racism in the actions of fellow students and administrative actions, and I guess some of you (or a lot of you) find that the strikers themselves demonstrated hypocrisy and racism. I mean obviously that point can (and will) be argued both ways.

    The most important thing about this is that no side can claim to be "right" because neither side will ever agree... I think thats indicative of the emotional nature of the entire thing. Its like religious arguments... no one is ever going to change anyone else's ideology. We're all just pissing each other off. Its like Congress.

    • congress

      congress is a democratically elected institution which operates upon principles of proportional representation and constant consultation with constituents

      it gridlock is due to the fact that the populace is very divided along different political cleavages and because there are specifically designed bureaucratic practices to ensure that small majorities don't have a disproportionate say

      the strikers and your actions have been the anti thesis of this as they've repudiated all notions of self determination or demcracy. Organizers like David Judd have been exposed as people who'll give up the high and lofty philosophies they support when they can throw them to the side for power. try again

  25. Tim DeLaughter

    So, in the final analysis, the hunger strike accomplished little more than a cardboard octopus, holiday lights, and the occupation of Butler Plaza for a week.

    I'll eat to that.

  26. Sprinkles

    Talk about an over-inflated sense of self-importance. Fighting a "war?" Give me a break. Children.

  27. what to do now?  

    francis j: i'm glad to see you've acknowledged that the hunger strike was so polarizing, and a lot of kids on our side ended up getting called racist when they had legitimate reasons to oppose the hunger strike.

    As for you guys (i hate this dichotomy between "us" and "you", however, I didn't start it), i understand that you felt marginalized, oppressed. It's not cool and I hear you. And I respect your passion in activating against it, although as you know, like many of "us," i thought your methods were eventually polarized columbia even more than before you embarked on the hunger strike.

    now this is over, I'm not sure what to do. I guess the anti-strikers' top priority would be for a townhall 11 days ago.

  28. not clear  

    to me what the "anti-striker movement" is about, anyway. i hear a lot of people saying they support or are indifferent to the demands, but disagreed with the method (not that i heard much discussion about the demands before the strike). but what happens now? are people going to oppose the demands just out of spite? the anti-striker grouping never had any kind of platform, and its really hard for me to see why the strikers or supporters should be worried about its formation as an organized political force.

  29. hatred

    I have never felt more hatred and anger towards my peers in my 3.5 years here at Columbia. These people and their terrorist tactics should never have been allowed to disrupt our campus like this for their own selfish and deluded goals. If I ever see this people in person I will have to fight the urge to spit on them. Scum of the world.

  30. facebook? come on

    there are now over 750 people who feel marginalized by the strike, because they took the effort to click a button and join a facebook group? seriously. i'm not at the vigils, so i don't know, but you'll have to give me some numbers of how many people are actually taking action, i.e., feel "marginalized" enough to do something before i'll accept this huge 750 number.

    and why did each person join that group? i would bet anything the anti-strikers sentiments are more "unrelated" than the strikers demands.

    and least important--there are over 1400 people in the support the hunger strikers facebook group. if we're talking about majorities, that's pretty close to a 2/3 in support. (though the importance of a majority is questionable, as someone else in a different post brought up--remember that a majority vote in the south for most of this nation's history would and did disenfranchise [and worse] blacks.)

    this is not to belittle the anti-strikers, or say that they aren't valid. on the contrary, i think one of the most positive things the strikers did was get people to start talking/doing, whatever "side" they take. i think it's great that people have been opposing them, because this criticism forces them to clarify what exactly they mean. and really, what they really want from the university, i think most people would support. and if it takes inflammatory words/actions to get people talking, that's unfortunate--due to the admittedly clear polarizing effect--but when nothing else has worked, flame away.

    at the end of the day, support and don't support. keep it civil, and everyone wins.

    • facebook works  

      1) Your last two paragraphs are excellent and I respect you for that.

      2) However, the first para does not ring true. You don't have to be an activist to disagree. You don't have to be an activist for your voice to be as important as activists. Thus the facebook group is extremely important as a demonstration of equally important students who disagree and who are equally affected by what's going on.

      3) Now let's talk about majorities.
      Well, there are over 750 *COLUMBIA STUDENTS* in the anti-strike facebook group, and there about 645 in the pro-strike group. You do the math. When you have (or hopefully before then), you'll realize the actual majority of Columbia students is for the anti-strike group.

      (If you don't know about facebook, some groups can be open only to students, others to the rest of the world. The anti-strike was the former, because the creator, to her credit, wanted to make sure only people who actually had a stake in this strike could join. She didn't want red necks from the south joining who had nothing to do with this. The pro-strike group, on the other hand, was of the latter variety, and about 800 of their members are not affiliated with Columbia and are not affected by this strike.)

      4) i do think its funny that facebook has facilitated, to some extent even caused, so much debate. Although i don't see how else the anti-strikers could have mobilized as quickly as they did. It's played a very useful, if unintended role, in this whole saga.

      • #42

        some valid points brought up. i'll post my thoughts as a response.

        on 2) i did not mean to suggest that your voice is only valid if you are an activist. quite the contrary. i think it is very necessary to recognize that there are people who are simply too busy with their schoolwork at this school to put much time into activism, in either direction, and that there is nothing wrong with this. what i do mean to suggest, is that i do not take seriously 750 as a number simply because they joined a facebook group. that group only required that you in some form or another did not wholly agree with the strike, "everybody who does not support them, for whatever reason.". which, in itself, is not saying much, as for example, Prof Dalton did not agree with the wording of much of the demands, but fasted along with them nonetheless. it begs the question as to what the tolerance level is for joining the group. 100% not supportive? 50%? 10%? what is the average level of non-support among the 750 members? it is silly questions like these that come up when trying to use this as a thermometer. i don't think those 750 can be considered a unified group in any significant sense. what i'm suggesting, is that if 200 people are coming to the anti-strike vigils, i will take that number a lot more seriously, because it means a much clearer stance of non-support, which joining a facebook group to which you get an automatic invite in your inbox does not.

        some other tidbits i found concerning the groups, as to why i don't think it's necessarily a very good measurement.--though i should say at this point, i don't use facebook a whole lot. i do have an account, but if i'm wrong about how any of the following aspects of facebook work, feel free to point me out--

        i found it interesting that around 1,600 haven't replied to the "not" group yet. two days ago, that number was over 1,700 (i can't find a way to track this on the "support" group). i don't suppose there is any way to track exactly how many people have been invited total, because that could produce some interesting statistics. is there any way to track how many people have declined to join the group? two days ago, the number of people in the "not" group was right around 700. the number of people who "haven't replied" has gone down 100, but the people who are in the group has only gone up 50--which could be read as 50% do support the strike (it could be read several other ways, as well). i do NOT suggest this is in any way a representative statistic. but the nearly double number of people who have been invited compared to those who are in the group, suggests to me that the "not" members are NOT in the majority. at best, you could say that those 1600 remaining are apathetic, could care less. also likely, is that they are on the fence, or i think a better way of putting it, is not sure how they feel. which is far from being against the strike.

        also, some people may have declined to join the "not" group, though also not joining the "support" group, as per their personal preferences as to how they use facebook (this point works both ways obviously). this, to me, makes practically all facebook based statistics questionable, as how a person prefers to use facebook is not really related to how they feel about the hunger strike. also note that there are 6,809 undergrads at columbia, another 15,577 grads, and 3,476 faculty, for a total of 25,862 (plus who knows how many alumni) people eligible to join the columbia facebook group. fewer than 1,500, roughly 5.6%, have joined one or the other facebook group. you can come up with the other statistics on your own, but i again use this to point out that facebook cannot be used as a reliable measuring stick.

        finally, your comment in 3) "only people who actually had a stake in this strike could join", is simply a position, not a hard fact. it is precisely the position of the pro-strikers that curriculum and administrative matters at columbia (not to mention the expansion) affect and are important to people outside the university, for a plethora of reasons. i don't care to reiterate the arguments, because there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue, just pointing out that what you said is a position.

        i will say in conclusion that i think it is valid to point out that 750 people have joined a facebook group that voices opposition to the strike. i agree that this does show a significant opposition. i disagree that you can argue what kind of opposition this is, that it is a unified group, or that it is as important as over 200 people marching around campus, or that it in any way suggests a "majority" of students oppose the strike because there are more in this facebook group than another.

        sorry for this extremely long post. i had some time on my hands. also sorry it's not as clear as my last one. lastly, i think it's fantastic that we all have time to consider the merits of facebook concerning a hunger strike. i mean, if we can't laugh at ourselves, we really are in trouble.

        • whew!

          that's a really long post there. i'm not the original poster that you started this debate with, but i did want to comment on one thing you pointed out there:

          "two days ago, the number of people in the "not" group was right around 700. the number of people who "haven't replied" has gone down 100, but the people who are in the group has only gone up 50--which could be read as 50% do support the strike (it could be read several other ways, as well). i do NOT suggest this is in any way a representative statistic. but the nearly double number of people who have been invited compared to those who are in the group, suggests to me that the "not" members are NOT in the majority. at best, you could say that those 1600 remaining are apathetic, could care less. also likely, is that they are on the fence, or i think a better way of putting it, is not sure how they feel. which is far from being against the strike."

          as you hinted above, there are myriad reasons why one would be invited to, but not join, the anti-strike facebook group. apathy and unsureness of one's feelings are legit reasons not to join. but one possible and important reason that you didn't mention is that people are scared to. yes, that's right--scared to join the group. why would people feel this way? because joining this group means that you are revealing yourself as someone who does not support the strike, and as we've seen from many spec/bwog/and (for some of us) in person comments over the past week, leaves you open to possible personal attacks and accusations of being a "racist". i personally know pro-strike people who are defriending fb friends who join the anti-strike group, and advertise this proudly. i also know of friendships that have become strained and damaged as a direct result of this strike, including multiple instances where one person accuses another of not understanding or supporting minorities, and being close-minded and bigoted. with this in mind, i look at the number of 1600 (or whatever it is now) people who have not joined the group, and wonder how many of them would actually join if they were granted anonymity--ie. if this membership would not appear prominently on their profiles, mini-feeds, etc. i wonder how many people have considered joining the group because they felt like they were against the demands or the methods of the strike, but ultimately decided not to express their opinion because of fear of alienation.

          of course, i have no hard statistics to give on this, and i heartily agree with you that ultimately, facebook numbers are not a reliable measuring stick. i'm also not using the "people are scared because of the environment that the strike has fostered" argument to refute anything that you said above. i do think that it is worth pointing out, however, that there ARE people out there who disagree with the strike yet have not joined the group because they are afraid of damaging personal relationships if they did so. i know some of them. and personally i think that's a real shame--that people would actually become afraid of voicing their opinions, whether it's through facebook or whatever other channel, because of their fellow students.

  31. Not surprised...  

    So the annoying, racist, dumbass posting under the email [email protected] turned out to be Frances Jeffrey-Coker, the great "anti-racist"? Talk about pathetic. At least now we get to see the true colors of the hunger strikers.

  32. reply to 42  

    i hear your comment and generally agree, but just wanted to point out that the 1400 people in support of the hunger strike on facebook are around 40% non-columbia-affiliated individuals. and while i think that such individuals have every right to talk/vote about the manhattanville expansion, they have no right to change our core curriculum and major cultures. if you actually spend the time to count columbia-affiliated people in the "support the hunger strike" group, you will see that it is around 650. but it took me FOREVER to count that, so i understand if you don't want to.
    anyway, my two cents.

  33. Google away

    Most activists are so mind-fucked by this identity model that they become permanently academically isolated -- ie they don't go out into the real world ever. It's grad school and then on to teaching and signing petitions like the Duke 88. Activism is little more than a farm system for professorships in liberal arts departments. That's how politicized universities have become. If anything, these kids all guaranteed their tenure alongside El-Haj.

  34. i should add  

    before anyone attacks her, i don't actually know if that was the anti-strike fb group creator's motivation for not making the group public. Though if it was, I would agree myself.

  35. asdf  

    "... an excerpt from Stoakley Carmichal's autobiography (written, confusingly enough, by Oscar Wilde)."

    is there something i'm missing here? my limited research indicates that oscar wilde died in 1900, while stokely carmichael wasn't born until 1941.

    wilde: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_wilde

    carmichael: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwame_Ture

    explain pleasey?

  36. pink  

    Big ups to BWOG for their "track" feature, #2,3,5,7

  37. fair enough  

    totally agree we need to laugh at ourselves, and very much accept every point in your conclusion, but would add that just as i can't claim a majority using facebook as a thermometer, neither can you - you sound like a rational guy and I'm sure you'll agree to that.

    I think my major point, which you've essentially accepted, was simply that a significant number of people with a stake in this did not support the strike.*

    You're absolutely right that there's no way of knowing how much they opposed the strike, or why. But that's not what matters. What matters is that those 750 people - for whatever their individual reasons - did openly oppose the strike. That is a lot of people who felt the strike was, at the very least, an inappropriate form of protest. (Other people have said pathetic, self-serving, extremist, unnecessary etc, but even I'm sure everyone would at least agree to inappropriate.) (ps my own position would be unnecessary).

    it is also indeed interesting that 1600 people have not replied to the "not" group - and I accept it points in your favor.


    *This, and my earlier assertion, is a hard fact, btw, if you think about, and your argument works in our favor not your's. Because, as you say, it's not accounting for the other people you want to include with a stake in this, i.e. Manhattanville, bc they couldn't join the group. It works in our favor, not yours, that there were people who could not join who did have a stake in this, e.g. those W. Harlem residents you rightly claim should not be excluded. It suggests we could have more support than the numbers suggest. Anyway, to say every person who joined the "not" group had a stake in this is absolutely 100% true, meanwhile the same assertion cannot be made for the "pro" group.

    While i'm on it, I had a problem with the strike bc the demands were so extensive. Thus while I see why it is important to give the wider NYC and W. Harlem their due voice, it is not appropriate to give them a voice in changes to the core or ethnic studies, which is a necessary consequence of what you're advocating. By claiming they had a stake in this - which on one demand they can rightly claim to - you are giving them a voice on some things they do not have a stake in. Thus you're both right and wrong. The real problem behind this lies of course with the extensiveness of the demands.

    anyway, clearly i'm bored, and sorry if this comes over as stream of consciousnness rambling (it is). Anyway, it seems everyone's lost interest, so let's not flog a dead horse anymore.

    peace...

  38. last post  

    was in response to #58.

  39. hahaha  

    #58, I picked that up to. I was like um, I betchu she's a girl and then what. I also noticed that when people respond to your posts in an inflammatory way, if you tell them you're a girl they get less crazy.

  40. my bad  

    well, i guess you actually would have good reason to call me that, this time, and I apologize... my bad.

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