Nov

16

IT’S OVER

Written by

partyFollowing the release of a joint statement on the agreed-upon academic concessions–posted after the jump, in all its wonky glory–the four remaining hunger strikers will start weaning themselves off not eating after a vigil and press conference, same time same place (9PM at the sundial). 

Anything happen on Manhattanville? Nope.

The story on that will come out when we can pry it out of people.

UPDATE, 9:35 PM: According to Feditor Chas Carey, a “group of individual students” sent an open letter to the strikers, listing their grievances and questions, about a half an hour before the strike ended. Hey, it’s never too late to be friends!

Academic Matters

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 have been assured faculty wish to hear from you, and we have arranged 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.  These positions are incremental to the junior lines already allocated to CSER. 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. The Ethnic Studies faculty have invited you to work immediately with them to formalize your participation in the long term academic review of the Center and in the hiring processes already underway.  This review, along with the ongoing search, are precious opportunities to establish a consistent student input in the direction and governance of the CSER.  Vice President Dirks has received the agreement of Claudio Lomnitz to move this process forward in the following way:

  1. Renewed participation of student representatives in the current search. They will have unprecedented input in the process and are invited to the next meeting of the search committee on December 4. 
  1. A meeting with students and the leadership of the Center will be held early next semester to discuss the intellectual project guiding current changes, views of the future, and commitments to guarantee continuing student participation in the governance of the center.
  1. Academic review of the center. 
  1. One student representative will sit on the committee that will draft the self-study of the center. This representative of the students will also guarantee the continuing consultation with students throughout the research and writing of the study. The ARC guidelines provide the basic structure of the items to be covered in that study (including current status of the program, plans for next five years, and areas where consensus has not been achieved). The review has been scheduled for the 2008-2009 academic year. This will allow the spring of 2008 for the production of the self study.
  1. After the self-study is delivered to the ARC, students will participate individually and collectively in the review through meetings with the Internal Review Subcommittee in Fall 2008. 
  1. Students and faculty of CSER will advise ARC on the composition of the external review committee which will work and issue recommendations during the Spring of 2009. 
  1. Students will participate in meetings with the Vice President of Arts and Sciences in Spring 2009 to discuss recommendations of the final ARC report. Since this report is confidential, ARC, CSER and the VP of Arts and Sciences will determine, in consultation with student representatives, which parts of the reports can be discussed in the community of the center. 
  1. Students will then discuss with CSER faculty the implementation plan that will be the response to the final report. 
  1. Students will participate in the monitoring process of the implementation plan from Fall 2009 through Spring 2011.

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.  Immediately after Vice President Dirks has received approval from the Task Force and the Committee on the Core, departments will be invited to submit new Major Cultures course proposals, and efforts will be initiated to secure the necessary funding. Though students already sit on these committees, further arrangements will be made to enable concerned students to address these committees and contribute to their deliberations.  Specifically, to enable you to address your requests to faculty committees as soon as possible:

      Your representatives were invited to yesterday’s meeting of the Committee on the  Core so that your opinions could be heard;

      Professor Grieve, chair of the Committee on the Core and the Committee on  Major Cultures, has agreed to put on the agenda of the December meeting of the  Committee on the Core discussion of your views on student participation in the  committee’s work;

      Vice President Dirks has received agreement from Professor Martha Howell,  chair of the Working Group on Curricular Structure, that your representatives  will address the next meeting of the committee, later this semester.

Administrative Matters

Last month, Dean Nair informed student leaders that a professional consultant 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 consultant 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, and as soon as that is established, efforts will be begun to provide the funds needed to implement the plan.

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 in Arts and Sciences.  Dean Colombo has confirmed that the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs is open to all undergraduates including those from General Studies.

Expansion plans for the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs and the Inter-Cultural Resource Center continue to move forward, as students involved in the planning are aware. The Division of Student Affairs has been working closely with Columbia University Housing and Facilities to secure suite-style housing contiguous to the Intercultural Resource Center (IRC).  We expect to announce by the end of the semester the exact location of the IRC extension, and the launch of an initiative to secure the necessary funding.

The annual orientation program for new faculty will incorporate more extensive discussion of diversity issues, incorporating perspectives that address the socio-historical legacies of power and privilege.

The Office of Public Safety has primary responsibility for responding to incidents of possible hate crimes. Among their responsibilities are: documentation of the incident, notification to the relevant deans, and, in the case of criminal acts, notification to the N.Y.P.D. for investigation. These protocols are discussed more fully in a pamphlet prepared by the Division of Student Affairs, titled, “Community Support: Responding to Acts of Bias and Hate.” Dean Colombo has confirmed that the Office of Public Safety has agreed to meet with students to discuss staff diversity education and training, as well as other issues of mutual concern. Every effort will be made to meet before the end of the semester. 

——————————————————————————————————— 

Given the importance of these agreements and their multi-year implementation, an oversight committee of faculty, students, and alumni will be created to monitor their progress over the next five years. We hope we can all now 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.


LETTER TO THE STRIKERS FROM “A GROUP OF INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS”

To The Strikers: 

We understand that you wish to meet privately with members of our group, off-the-record, to begin a conversation about our concerns regarding the strike. 

At this juncture, private conversation is not a relevant or appropriate way of engaging with the greater community, since neither we nor any individual can claim to represent the general opinion of those who oppose your unilateral action. If we do engage in dialogue with you, we (or any of the 730 students who currently oppose the hunger strike) can only speak as individuals. The most effective way to engage in dialogue right now, in the absence of elected representatives, is in a public forum accessible to all, where each student can read and respond. Over the last five days, several students have repeatedly submitted questions and concerns to you, both electronically and verbally. We have yet to receive a public response on the record. 

Until you provide a written, public response to our concerns, most notably as to the legitimacy of the strike, we do not think it appropriate to engage in private discussions with you. You have unilaterally taken steps to institute sweeping changes that impact every student at Columbia. The onus is on you to engage publicly with the student body such that all viewpoints can be fairly represented. 

Private, off-the-record, discussions are inadequate for the following reasons:

  1. Many students are uncomfortable approaching you individually with their concerns, lest, given the current environment, they be accused of racism or cultural insensitivity.
  2. There is no guarantee of accountability for your statements, or that you will include our opinions in your discussion with the administration.
  3. Even if you do take into account the concerns of individuals who approach you, such individuals, in private conversation, have no legitimacy to represent the greater student body.
  4. Most importantly, it is impossible to disseminate the content of private discussion accurately in the public sphere.

To start this open and publicly accountable debate, we have attached a list of questions that have been previously posed to you in several formats. Please make your answers, the questions themselves, and this letter available on your website and/or any other public forums of your choice. 

We were personally very disappointed by the disingenuous comments of Christina Chen to the Spectator indicating that we were uninterested in engaging in dialogue. We are fundamentally interested in engaging in dialogue. Indeed, this has been one of our primary concerns from the outset. The question is how that dialogue should take place. Only in the public arena, where all students can access and discuss all views while participating and holding all parties accountable, can we hope to make any meaningful progress. 

We look forward to your swift response to these questions. 

Sincerely, 

 

Nina Bell

CC’07 

Chas Carey

CC’08 

Thomas de Swardt

CC’08 

Timothy de Swardt

CC’08 

Joshua Mathew

CC’09 

Michael Nadler

CC’07 

Aga Sablinska

CC’09 

Paul Stamm

GS’08

Questions: 

    1. How many Columbia students do not support your hunger strike? Can you provide any kind of quantitative data for this?
    2. Have you publicly acknowledged their dissent, and how will you reconcile yourselves with these individuals, if at all?
    3. Can you provide any kind of data about how many Columbia students support your hunger strike?
    4. If not, have you taken any measures to try and get this kind of information?
    5. Do you have evidence that your views are representative of the entire student body?
    6. If not, why do you feel that you have the right to impose your vision of Columbia onto those who may not agree with it?
    7. What gives you the right to negotiate with the administration on issues that will affect, at the very least, the entirety of Columbia College, if you are not certain that you have majority support?
    8. In your statement, you say that you “strike to re-imagine the university as a more democratic place….where students have a deciding say in this university.” If you have not taken steps to make sure that you are representing the opinion of the majority of students, this appears to be contradictory. How is your vision a democratic one if it is not representative? How do you respond to this apparent contradiction?
    9. Do you not think that your demands should be channeled through a student organization that is democratically elected?
    10. Have you created an atmosphere where all students can participate in discussion of your demands, equally and without fear? Why or why not?
    11. Have you marginalized students who may support some or all of your arguments but question your legitimacy and methods?
    12. If so, what actions have you taken to reconcile your methods with those mutually-shared opinions, if any?
    13. Prior to the hunger strike, had you exhausted all other options for furthering your demands? If so, provide concrete evidence and demonstrate what attempts you made to engage the greater student body in these efforts. Did you make clear that non-participation would result in a hunger strike?
    14. At which meeting was the decision made to go on a hunger strike? How many were present and how did the debate over appropriate action reach this final result?
    15. If concerned members of the Women’s Studies Department or the Human Rights Program went on a hunger strike demanding the reallocation of the $50 million set aside for a Major Cultures Seminar to their respective under-funded causes, would you support them? Why or why not?
    16. Returning to your commitment to “a more democratic place” for students, if your demand to allow more student voices on the Core Curriculum is implemented, and the majority of students still do not share your visions for the Core, what will you do?
    17. In a similar vein, you make the following demand: “Interested Ethnic Studies majors collectively, shown through a vote, must be given 1 or 2 votes (depending on committee size) which will be delivered by the current student positions on all hiring committees for junior and senior faculty to increase student presence and determination of CSER’s direction.” Is there any precedent for this in any other Columbia departments?
    18. Should this be something that is enacted across the board, or just in the Ethnic studies area? Why or why not?
    19. What kind of a precedent does a hunger strike set for those who have attempted to deal with these or similar issues in other ways?

 

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57 Comments

  1. anonymous

    The only 'concession' should have been not charging these assholes with public disturbance if they packed up and went home immediately.

    Great job Columbia.

    Kids - better reserve the lawn now, because there's going to be a two-year wait on the hunger strike list.

  2. Blackwater?  

    "Last month, Dean Nair informed student leaders that a professional consultant 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."

  3. food  

    yay! people will start eating me again! ;-)

  4. Wow  

    "Immediately after Vice President Dirks has received approval from the Task Force and the Committee on the Core, departments will be invited to submit new Major Cultures course proposals, and efforts will be initiated to secure the necessary funding."

    Yeahhhh major cultures equity!!!!

  5. meh

    now they will never have to answer the reasonable questions posed to them by strike opponents. i'm glad people will be eating again rather than hurting their bodies any further, but i'm disappointed that they couldn't even muster one answer to nina's questions.

  6. Can somebody  

    paraphrase? That's, like, a way lot of reading. I'm in SEAS.

    • paraphrased  

      CU to Strikers: If you have paid attention, we were already working on these issues. We're sorry you feel disenfranchised. You can come to as many of our bureaucratic meetings as you want.

      Strikers to CU: Ok, I guess we'll start eating now.

  7. thank GOD

    Now we can all get back to our lives. And now they can finally answer all of the questions they have refused to acknowledge over the past week.

  8. finally  

    when will the tents and christmas lights be off the lawn???

  9. anonymous

    i wonder if nina ever sent her questions to the strikers, instead of only posting them among a swamp of bwog comments. (i don't know, which is why i ask)

    • yup

      she did. if you go to the facebook group "we do not support the hunger strikers", she states that she has sent the questions to the strikers, with no response as of yet.

      except of course for that one non-response 'response' from christina chen, saying that she was too overextended to actually write down answers to the questions.

      it's all on the wall of the fb group.

  10. Hahaha  

    Anyone else able to parse this and realize that there's not a single change from the status quo in it? There were effectively no concessions! Bravo to the administration for finding a diplomatic way to get these selfish pricks off the lawn.

  11. Major Cults Seminars  

    Well, I guess we'll need to put more grad students in classrooms. Perhaps they'll try to unionize again, but hunger strike this time. That is, until someone points out that they were starving anyway.

    • Seminars?  

      Major Cultures Seminars? Where? I don't see major cultures seminars in that document! I don't see a $50 million funding pledge (where did that bullshit come from?). I see a continuation of the Committee that has been (rightfully) meeting for some time now, and a pledge to try to reduce class sizes (always a good thing) and entertain proposals for new courses (also not a bad idea).

      Sweet.

  12. Anonymous

    Still no annual report on bias incidents and hate crimes at Columbia? How is that not an obvious thing that administration NEEDS to be doing?

    And Mike Nadler isn't an "individual student." He's an alum and worker for Manhattan Borough President/Expansion Proponent Scott Stringer.

    • Public Safety...  

      ...issues an annual report on all incidents of crime on campus or involving Columbia, broken down by category. Most recent one came out on Wednesday; there was an e-mail sent out by McShane about this. Would that qualify?

  13. What a joke

    make up with a bunch of fascist extremists who care nothing for their fellow students and treat them like crap? I dont usually care about politicalish things but this has to show you which students really don't care about anythign but their own ideology. I can tell you that a lot of these strikers who used to be my friends will be suprised when a lost of their former friends stop treating them as rational people and they only have themselves to blame for it

    The scary thing is that people who you would think were reasonable (but i guess its obvious they are fake types) like osekre and christina chen care so little about others.

    • im sure  

      you used to be friends with christina & osekre, but wont be any more because they're "fascist extremists". real plausible. particularly since osekre isnt a striker, and you seem to have gotten the mistaken impression that he is just because he wrote a supportive spec column. oops?

  14. Silly Sakib  

    I wonder if Sakib will still be posting on Bwog when he is 76 years old.

  15. Avi Alpert

    I have pasted here a preliminary response to questions posed by Nina a few days ago and reiterated in the questions above. I WAS NOT A HUNGER STRIKER AND DO NOT SPEAK FOR THEM. I do, however, appreciate what they have done and want to help this dialogue move forward. Sorry that the answers are so lengthy, but there were a lot of questions.
    -Avi Alpert, CC 06

    As supporters of the hunger-strikers, we would like to thank Nina for posing this series of critical questions. They represent the type of engaged dialogue that the strike was originally intended to elicit. In turn, the below are not meant as definitive answers, so much as considered responses as part of an unfolding discussion. They are not directed entirely to Nina, so much as to the community at large. We hope that this conversation, and not uninformed anger and ungrounded opinion, become the norm in speaking about the strike.

    1) (On whether the strikers have general support from the student body) To answer the question honestly, we do not believe that any such data exists, or could be compiled accurately and scientifically by undergraduate students without advanced training in statistics. (Certainly the numbers of a Facebook group do not constitute such a study.) More importantly, however, we are not sure that this is in fact the real question at the heart of the matter. It is not clear, within the confines of the university, that Centers for the study of gender, African-American studies or human rights would have been created based on majority student interest. Quite frankly, it's not clear that less popular majors (such as statistics, Slavic languages or dance) would exist either if this were the sole criterion. Columbia, as a self-proclaimed "global university," supports research not just because of universal student demand, but also because of an intellectual responsibility to the expansion of knowledge. Thus, in making these demands, the students speak not only to their personal experiences and desires, but, equally, to the demands that scholarship be accountable to an ever expanding and complicated world.

    We might also answer this question historically, noting that movements for marginalized groups (Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights, etc.), are, by definition, unpopular at first, and must be fought for without majority influence. The question of general support should no more be put to these students in asking for their demands than it should have been put to blacks in the South. (Of course, rapacious bloggers, these are vastly different situations, but the analogy of a group on the margins remains the same.)

    This is, in turn, an answer to another part of the question regarding the right of these protestors to "impose" their views. We will not say simply that they have a right to free speech, but, more forcefully, that they have a duty to bring these issues to light. Issues discussed in ethnic studies, from colonialism to race to gender, are fundamental to how we live. These issues do not disappear when we ignore them. The general lack of knowledge displayed by the majority of Columbia students to questions of race and colonialism is, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the university. The angered reactions that these students have faced prove their very point: Columbia is failing to train students who understand the complex political issues of the modern world. We cannot, in a few paragraphs, explain what your education should already have taught you, but suffice it to say that there are extreme gaps in your knowledge of the modern world that a course in "contemporary civilization" should have at least put on your radar screen. You should know, at the very least, that racism is not only epithets and actions, but is also symbolic and often unconscious, and that the hunger strikers have been working to combat racism across the spheres of its appearance in society.

    Finally, it must be remembered that these demands are a response. As Malcolm X said, "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us." This hunger strike began most directly because a noose was placed on the door of a black professor. The fact that some people do not understand how pervasive lynching was in the twentieth-century and do not comprehend how traumatic and disgusting such an act is, is again reason for a required course in race alone. This brings us to question 2.

    2) (On the addition to the Core Curriculum) These are crucial and important questions which would have to be discussed with faculty and students. There are a variety of models available which one could consider. One might argue, for example, that questions about race, gender and colonialism are direct outgrowths of the core. Feminist philosophers like Judith Butler, for example, engage closely with works by Hegel, Freud and Foucault. African-American philosophers like DuBois also speak directly to Hegel, and Cornel West's first book was on Marx. There are also important ways that these questions are always present within the current core texts themselves. Aristotle, for example wrote about the place of slaves and women in politics, and Rousseau, Hobbes and Locke wrote at length on colonialism. There is, further, an important question about why we speak of a distinct "Western tradition" when there is ample historical evidence to suggest constant intellectual commerce with Northern Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia. Egypt had a profound influence on Ancient Greece, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures were written in the Middle East, and German philosophers from the 17th century on were fascinated by Buddhist and Hindu texts in translation. All of these issues, on the cutting edge of scholarship, are ignored in the core and render it intellectually insufficient. To truly understand the development of sovereignty, the institution of democracy, and so forth, a global perspective must be taken. This is increasingly recognized by scholars the world over and the Core ought to be responsive to this new and developing understanding of global history.

    Other institutions have added a general race requirement to their Core Curriculum. Every student at Temple University in Philadelphia, for example, is required to take a course on "Studies in Race." The Temple Bulletin notes, "The knowledge and the communication skills gained in these courses help students better understand a critical aspect of their society and their own experience. Such understanding is essential for living and working in our racially-diverse world." Besides changes to the Core, Columbia could consider the importance of such a course. More than a Major Cultures course, this would force students to critically reflect on their attitudes and beliefs about those of other ethnicities, genders and so forth. The comments on this discussion board lead me to believe such a course would be greatly beneficial.

    Of course, just as importantly, other models and other courses considered. Nina's are important questions in thinking about how to form new courses and why such courses are central to a vibrant academic community.

    2.5) One important thing is for the course to address general questions of how power relationships form and structure our lives. What, unconsciously, do we think about others, and what autonomy do we have in forming our beliefs? Core graduates should notice that I am referencing here Foucault, Freud, and Kant, to once again affirm how central these issues are to the expansion of the intellectual development begun in the core. In this way the course does not speak to any specific issue, so much as enables the critical thinking that should be developed in the core curriculum to spread to other realms of knowledge. In this sense, we would not yet begin to advocate specific texts, so much as general points to take into consideration.


    I have not had time to prepare responses to other questions, and probably won't, but I hope this is at least somewhat helpful. Other questions are also outside of my purview, such as the steps taken prior to the hunger strike. But I can say, at the very least, that no activist who feels she has another option decides willingly to stop eating.

    • boo

      fucking hoo. "We didn't conduct a survey becuz we dunno maths :-(" Give me a break.
      The Core isn't some secret set of classes you learn about only upon completing NSOP. It's the hallmark of Columbia. Why the hell did you come here if you thought the Core was so woefully "intellectually insufficient"? When I was choosing universities, I did enough research to know where I could expect a curriculum that suited my needs and interests. Maybe you should have done the same before coming here, instead of bitching and moaning at the expense of every other student on this campus?
      I, and I expect many, many other people, are still waiting for a concrete and hopefully coherent response to these questions from the obnoxious pricks who think they know what's good for everyone.

      • you know  

        that you would have decried the bias of any survey the strikers conducted, so don't be disingenuous.

        the intentions and promises of the core are different than the reality. there are also zillions of reasons to come to columbia besides the core, ranging from the bad-but-unavoidable - luck in admissions & scholarships, parental pressure - to the hard-to-beat - quality of some departments, new york city. this argument is as bad, and as self-defeating for those who want any democratic say in things, as "love it or leave it" applied anywhere else, eg "America".

        • i'm an objective

          observer. If they conducted a valid survey on a provably representative population, with an appropriate sample size, it would be difficult to call the survey results biased. Furthermore, the strikers are not the only ones capable of conducting such surveys. An independent agent (i.e. Spec, an expert student, even a professor) is really not that hard to find on a college campus. But really, who gives a shit about statistics when they can satisfy their attention-whoring needs by sitting on the lawn, in a tent, with Christmas lights around them. Read the last part of that sentence again. Does it sound anything other than ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS?

  16. Anonymous  

    I appreciate your response, Avi, but is this a formal preliminary response by the striker coalition?

    For example, do you legitimately represent the group or at least the group's organizers? Again, sorry to sound terse, and I do appreciate your response.

  17. Hey now  

    Whatdya have against "undergraduate students with advanced training in statistics"? You mentioned stats majors twice in your first point, the only one I had time to read. There are a couple dozen of them in the college, and I'm sure they could have easily put a survey together in advance of a protest, had anyone thought to check whether these demands were appropriate or not.

  18. Lol  

    You're clearly not too well-researched on the matter. It says upon approval from the task force- the task force is composed primarily of faculty; faculty is in practicaly unanymity on the matter. The comittment to raise the money (which ,as you stated, will be c. 50 mil) is absolutely huge. There is no logisitical mandate for the admin to proide money for faculty suggestions otherwise. Sorry to rain on your parade of injustice.

    • #20  

      Aha, yes, but it says nothing about specific amounts nor a specific way to use the money. It just says they will try to reduce the classroom size.

      The "agreement" you so foolishly think meets your "demands" is limited to the following wording:

      "...bringing it into parity in terms of classroom size and curricular importance with other parts of the Core"

      "...departments will be invited to submit new Major Cultures course proposals, and efforts will be initiated to secure the necessary funding."

      You know what? I'd be glad to initiate efforts for you to suck my balls.

  19. silly silly silly

    These guys sure needed to do their research. The administration simply put out a statement of what HAS ALREADY HAPPENED! If these hunger strikers stopped for a moment these past few years (or in one case crossed Broadway to actually go to Columbia) they would have realized their BS demands were already on dozens of agendas. Their strike did nothing but divide the student body and give us a bad reputation in the eyes of the administration (thus making future negotiations a blast!). Go eat a burger, come to your senses and do 5 minutes of research before you martyr yourself again.

    • clueless  

      general consensus that something would be a good idea is not the same thing as a commitment to make it happen, nor are plans to make something happen any year now the same thing as a specific commitment to make something happen by a specific process. you're the "silly" one - or rather just not paying attention.

      also isnt it kind of funny that strikers are simulataneously being attacked for being unrepresentative and for only implementing things that everyone knew would happen? a bit contradictory?

  20. responses  

    from a random hunger strike supporter:

    1. Spec poll says 2/3rds support demands, 50% support strike & 50% oppose.
    2. Been publicly discussed in various ways, positive & negative. Meaning of "acknowledgement" & "reconciliation" unclear.
    3. See (1)
    4. See (1). Strikers formed a Facebook group to attract supporters. No attempt on their part to do any kind of polling would have any credibility as objective anyway.
    5. Besides (1), general support from the elected student councils of CCSC, GSSC, SGA. opposition from the unelected student council ESC.
    6. Avi's responses are eloquent. If students of color are marginalized, majority support from white students is not necessary to mandate fixing this. Fortunately, since columbia isn't 1950s mississippi, majority support is generally present. Of course, the argument is easier in the case of manhattanville, where strikers speak for community members, not students.
    7. See above (1), (5), (6). Also, anyone has the right to talk to the administration about anything; it is only in expecting & demanding response that democratic issues arise.
    8. See above. These people like to restate questions, don't they?
    9. Ideally. However, the issues raised by strikers are not typically discussed in student council election campaigns, which seem to be decided more by quality & quantity of clever flyers. Also, direct action to communicate with and pressure elected representatives is a necessary part of democracy.
    10. They seem to have done their best. The complaints that all opponents are called racist seem to me at least to be based more on a paranoid & defensive misreading than reality.
    11. See (10).
    12. Something close to 24 hour availability for open dialogue?
    13. These demands have been made for years, and were discussed at widely publicized town halls in the aftermath of the hate crimes, in Spec, on Bwog, at rallies, and in past negotiations with administrators. A strong effort was made to gather student input onto demands and build support. It's unclear what difference it would make to announce a hunger strike a week or two in advance rather than upon launching it.
    14. I don't know. Why does it matter?
    15. Not if they specifically demanded that the funding be taken from Major Cultures, because while those programs could use funding, it shouldn't be taken away from an important element of the Core Curriculum. If somehow I could pick what funding was cut, I'd suggest expansion construction, investments in military contractors, security especially party-busting, Glass House Rocks, and those damn psych studies that plaster flyers all over the place. I don't know how much adds up to what, though. More directly, IMO its more important that Major Cultures be a seminar format than Music Hum & Art Hum.
    16. Be unhappy, & attempt to change minds.
    17. No precedents I know of.
    18. Across the board, for reasons of a more democratic university.
    19. The precedent that to get change at this university, students must resort to drastic measures. Which is too bad, but worth keeping in mind.

    Not too hard...

    • weak

      responses. i take issue esp. with #10 and 11--victoria ruiz making rude and obnoxious comments on bwog (a public forum, mind you) is already one example of how a striker has blatantly disrespected her fellow students--thus making a mockery of their concerns and marginalizing their responses to the strike as worthy only of infantile taunts.

      please read bwog and spectator comments for numerous examples of people unjustifiably labeled as "racists" after expressing doubts about the strike. there are only so many ways to misread the words "you racist."

      thanks though to avi for at least making a thought-out and meaningful attempt at answering some of these questions.

      • victoria  

        was a bit provoked. remember all the KFC comments? the strikers should be judged on their collective statements. if one judged all opponents by bwog comments, one might be justified in viewing opposition as generally motivated by hatred & racism.

        • bs excuse

          being "provoked" is not an excuse for being rude. i'm sure you can apply the same argument and say that lots of anti-strikers were provoked into making "hateful" and "racist" comments, although i don't even think that the bwog strike comments were "generally motivated by hatred and racism". maybe that was just a case of you practicing "paranoid and defensive misreading". some of them were just spiteful and wrong and should be rightfully condemned, yes, but don't forget/gloss over the many more that were reasoned out and motivated by the desire to know what makes the strike so damn legitimate.

          so no, being provoked is not a good excuse for victoria ruiz, as one of the prominent faces of the strike, to be publicly insulting and bitchy. neither does it justify acts such as frances jeffrey-coker posting taunts on the anti-striker facebook group wall. i don't excuse the bwog commenters who post truly disgusting things, and i don't excuse the acts performed by pro-strikers that truly gave their cause a bad name.

          and these are yes/no questions:

          10. Have you created an atmosphere where all students can participate in discussion of your demands, equally and without fear? Why or why not?

          Please see Bwog post "Mixed Messages" (on front page), comment #66. Also, the last sentences of Lars Dabney's comment in that same post. the answer is NO, they have not created an environment where ALL students can participate in discussion of their demands.

          11. Have you marginalized students who may support some or all of your arguments but question your legitimacy and methods?

          Yes. I have had numerous debates with pro-strikers/strike organizers, and I have definitely felt that I was being marginalized for having opposing views. Therefore the answer is yes, they have marginalized students.

          • you're  

            #36: you're picking out nasty bwog comments as selectively as one would have to do to describe all strike opponents as racists. the nasty comments from strikers / supporters also appeared well after the first comments by people telling them to just starve to death / describing plans to wave food in their faces. i wont defend the content of victoria's comments but i think its silly to judge the overall content of the strike by them and i think they're hardly marginalizing. its hard to be marginalized as a strike opponent in bwog comments, i think.

            #37: yes, if you trusted their sampling, their question wording, and that they actually did what they said they did. which you'd have some basis not to. the objectivity of a polling organization always matters. few advocacy groups try to contract the services of an 'independent agent' before launching a campaign. rather they try to demonstrate and gather support by petitions & publicity, & when they have reached a certain scale independent agents get interested. as spec did.

            i dont think the christmas lights were ridiculous. they seemed like a valid attempt to bring some cheer to a

            "attention-whoring" 1) few people are so desperate for attention that they'll starve for 10 days to get it. you have to have your head pretty far up your ass to not at least recognize sincerity. 2) i really hope you haven't whined in some other bwog comment about being alienated by the strikers.

          • should be  

            bring some cheer to a cold & rainy campsite.

          • if i

            flagellate myself on Low Plaza because I believe our phallic fountains are an affront to my delicate feminine side, will I not be sincere? Surely, I will be, since I am inflicting undue and unnecessary pain upon my body. Nevertheless, this would also make me an attention whore. And, despite all the sincerity that comes with publicly flagellating myself for the good of all men with a delicate feminine interior, such actions would also make me an inconsiderate bastard for (bloodily) forcing my opinions upon an unconsenting and likely antagonistic public.

          • replies  

            #43) if you flagellate yourself on low plaza, i wont call you an attention whore. it would be unjustified cause that's clearly not whats going on and would be nasty and mean-spirited. and, im not sure what you mean by 'forcing my opinions upon an unconsenting and likely antagonistic public', but if you just mean forcing people to pay attention to your opinions, well im sorry but thats a totally ridiculous thing to complain about. if you mean, forcing people to actually do what you want them to do, well you aren't. a hunger strike or any form of activism whereby people injure themselves is coercive only insofar as others believe they have an ethical responsibility of some sort to stop the strikers from being harmed. if you're really opposed in principle to what they're demanding, you shouldn't and probably won't give in. on the other hand if you're being apathetic or self-interested or have other priorities, a hunger strike may tug at your conscience. that's pretty distinct from the use of force.

            #44 / 46) there's a difference between feeling marginalized and being marginalized. i believe you when you tell me what you felt. but i dont think you had good basis for believing you were being marginalized, nor did other strike opponents. for one thing, marginalization requires power.

            the strikers feel marginalized, but that in itself is clearly not enough to justify their action or demands. their demands have to be defended on the merits, and if one justification is marginalization, than the demands have to be related to actual institutional marginalization. the same standard holds for opposition.

            (btw, i doubt that #41 is telling the complete story, as a privileged white guy whose experience of bryan is very different.)

          • PWG  

            #50, I'm also a privileged white guy, and I've been similarly insulted by Bryan Mercer. Any time you try to debate anything with him, the mere suggestion that you either 1) empathize with oppression (perhaps you're a PWG but also gay, Jewish, or an immigrant) or 2) don't think minorities at Columbia have it all that bad will spur him to jump down your throat, accuse you of racism, and ultimately stop respecting you as a person. Since I've seen him do this to more than one other PWG, I think Bryan just has a chip on his shoulder against PWGs, and I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder against him.

          • Flapjack Slim  

            I find this comment to be in complete opposition to everything I know of Bryan as a human being and an activist. I am a white male who has taken classes with Bryan and engaged with him in myriad debates around campus and I have never felt judged by him based on anything other than my words and actions. Let's not forget that Bryan, too, is a very privileged man and he recognizes that. I believe I can speak for the man in saying that he forms his opinions based on real-world engagement, not superficialities.

          • EXACTLY

            the whole point of the hunger strike is to avoid rational debate (which obviously subjects every party involved to open and quite possibly irrefutable criticism), and instead tug on the so-called heartstrings of anyone with a hint of ethics and morality. People are empathizing with the strikers simply by the fact that they starved themselves. Guess what, being willing to die for your cause still does not make your cause just or worthy of anything. Clearly, the 9/11 terrorists were not only willing, but did indeed die for their cause. Now, I am hardly comparing the idiots on our campus to those vile sub-human murderers, but the idea is the same: engaging in autoflagellation (be it via hunger strike or suicide) shifts the focus from the real, debatable issues to the undebatable fact that we, as humans, want to prevent the suffering of our fellow man -- even when it means making unreasonable concessions. Furthermore, my label of attention-whore is quite appropriate. Short of setting up their tent on alma mater's lap, these AW's chose the most visible part of campus to wage their war of irrationality.
            To all the PWG's out there: I hope you have all learned a valuable lesson. Debating "passionate" black people about anything even remotely related to race is like debating a brick wall about the virtues of a log cabin. ::waits to be called an evil oppressor of minorities, despite being a minority himself::

          • nope

            try again. i've done my fair share of debating on bwog and the spec but i've also made the effort of actually speaking to people involved in the strike. and yes, there were times where I did feel marginalized for voicing my disagreements about the validity of the CSER/core demands, as well as the validity of the tactics. are you seriously telling me that you know that i didn't actually feel marginalized?

            and if you really don't believe me, there are plenty of other examples of people who have felt marginalized by the strike, and by the leadership of the strike, no less. please take a look at comment #41 in this thread. if that is not marginalization enacted by bryan mercer, tell me what is.

          • nope again

            this is a comment posted on the spec website 7 minutes ago, under the lead article about the hunger strike ending. I'm sorry for posting so much in this thread. It just irritates me a lot when people insist that I am not being marginalized. Don't you know that the oppressed can be the oppressors too?

            From Spec online comments: "I'm going to keep this anonymous because I don't want it coming back to the other person, who happens to be a decent, honest student here. That said, we had a discussion recently about the strike. I'm not what would by most accounts be considered a minority (I'm "white" but I'm also Jewish and was brought up in a Jewish household, though I'm not religious at all now). After I tried to see both sides of the strike and respected the strikers for standing up for what they believed in, my good friend basically shot me down in a verbal tirade that I simply could not relate to the strikers because I didn't know what it was like being in the minority. I wanted to call bullshit, but he was just so fucking passionate about the issue that anything I tried suggesting counter to the strike would fall on deaf ears, and I was told to stop talking each time I tried voicing a viable counter opinion.

            I understand the need for an inclusion of greater diversity, but as the independent group of concerned students opposed to the strike noted, it's just not possible to toss your hat into the ring without being accused of being outright racist or culturally insensitive. That's really not the case at all, especially when lots of us are happy to talk about problems concerning the university. This really need not be an all-or-nothing struggle. Instead, we should do a better job progressing to a point where all viewpoints can be shared within the safe confines of the academy without ignorant attacks from one-another."

    • hey asshole  

      Speaking as a random anti-hunger strike supporter.

      I think you are the perfect example of the reason why I abhor your causes' tactics and ignorant antics.

      Not too hard...

      • that  

        was random. explain why? cause you know i dont think i called anybody a racist or held anybody hostage, so if im the perfect example of whats wrong with the strike, that suggests that your problem with it is a bit different from what most people have been saying.

  21. avi = the shit  

    avi, i don't know you but THANK YOU for that response.

    I don't agree with lots of it, and not that this is your fault, I have a big issue with only hearing about this now, not 9 days ago. But, regardless, *finally* someone has responded to these questions.

    Though Josh is right to ask if you represent the strikers officially?

    Anyway, even you don't, I'm very grateful that after one f*****g week, we have finally got to the point of having these questions answered in public.

  22. mom  

    strikes over! now go clean up that mess you left on the lawn!!!

  23. YEEEEEAHHHHHH  

    JUSTICCCCEEEEEEE MOTHAFUCKAAAASSSSS

  24. Bryan

    I went to talk to the strikers. Mercer took one look at me (I'm white) and told me that my priviledged background (his pure assumption) disqualified me from being able to understand anything they were about. He basically told me to fuck off. Thats the kind of dialogue they were looking for apparently.

  25. tool

    and Sakib is still a tool

  26. ttan

    In case anyone cares, I paid the bagpipe guy outside my office A$5 to play "Amazing Grace", "Danny Boy", and saddest, most melancholy funeral dirge he could think of for the death of Columbia College and any integrity that it could claim for refusing to negotiate with terrorists.

  27. in response to #39  

    you personally deserve my respect for being calm about this. However, i think you should realize that even if you didn't yourself call anyone a racist, lots of other people did. This was a direct result of the hunger strike. if you would like to see examples of this read for instance the examples of racist attacks referenced in #36, #41, #46 on this thread. I would also, on the other side of the coin, ask you to realize that a lot of the anti-strike idiots who have made equally insulting and retaliatory comments, would most probably not have done so were it not for the strike. Thus we have a shameful environment on campus where people are very heated and ridiculing each other repeatedly (even if, i accept, you yourself are not).

    The were all avoidable if this strike had not happened. Thus, even if you don't call anti-strikers racist yourself, you have supported a strike which has created this pitiful environment. And it was not difficult to see this would happen - a hunger strike is obviously a very drastic move that is likely to elicit strong opinions. As a rational guy, i'm sure you can see that was going to be the result. The middle ground is lost to polarized extremes.

  28. current student  

    What the fuck is with all of these a
    pathetic alums posting on Bwog? We don't care what any of you have to say any more than we cared while you were students. Move on.

    • ummm  

      you know almuni were students just like you are now and they have their own opinions on the matter. I'd say their voice should be more respected than any current students' because they've had some more life experience.

    • Alum

      Most of us have more of a stake in what happens at Columbia, because our gifts make the school run. With all the need-blind aid (paid for by alumni, btw) - alumni end up footing more of the bill than students.

      Think of us as shareholders. Kids with high Financial Aid packages are freeloaders.

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