Nov

20

Interview: Strike negotiator Andrew Lyubarsky

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If you’ve got a question about Manhattanville, and you’re looking for an answer that won’t make Columbia look great, talk to Andrew Lyubarsky. The CC junior led the talks with Executive Vice President Maxine Griffith over six “points of compromise” on expansion that, in a Spec op-ed, he characterized as “completely unproductive.” Bwog sat down with Lyubarsky to ask a few questions about how it all happened. Refer to our Manhattanville Decoder for help with the jargon.

andrewBwog: The strike obviously began a long time before two weeks ago, laying the groundwork for what you would demand from Columbia. What went into formulating the six points that you eventually presented to Maxine Griffith?

Andrew: The six points were come up with by the negotiators in conjunction with community members, some of whom were on the community board, some of which were on the local development corporation. Students on the expansion issue at least were never acting autonomously of the community’s desires. The original demands on the expansion basically came up both through the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification and its work with the community, as well as the series of town halls that occurred this semester and last semester in response to the race incidents on campus. Expansion was an issue that was constantly brought up in those forums.

The original plan, that the only way to be representative of the community is to pull the 197c plan, came out of the community board’s 32-2 vote in August. It rejected Columbia’s plan unless it met the 10 conditions of the 197a plan. Throughout this entire movement, we wanted to make sure we were representative of the community’s desires and didn’t go off on our own thing.



So then I’m puzzled, because of the e-mail [CB9 chairman] Jordi Reyes-Montblanc sent out on November 7, asking you not to strike. How is that being representative of the community?

Well, the first thing—and this is what I told Jordi—is that the strike wasn’t purely about the expansion, that there were curricular issues involved, and that the strike would go on without the expansion. And the second thing is that basically we didn’t have a tactical agreement with the chairman of the community board, there were other community members that were supportive of us, there were activist groups that were supportive of us, there were members of the LDC that were supportive of us, and even Jordi in his e-mail said he was supportive of our goals.



So you’re saying he was not being representative of the community board’s decision in asking you to withdraw your demand.

There was no community board meeting on the strike, this was his personal opinion.

So he was going against what his community board wanted by doing that.

There was no discussion of the strike with the community board, but we consulted with community board members in formulating our demands and our points of compromise. But there was no formal meeting or formal decision made by the community board, so community board members are free to make their own decisions, including the chairman.



Did you inform them that you were intending to use these tactics to achieve these demands that you’d agreed on?

Once again, there was no formal meeting of the community board, but we informed members of the community board, including obviously Jordi, because he sent us that e-mail. We informed all the relevant community leaders that this was going on, and some were supportive, and some believed it wasn’t the right tactic.



One thing I’m curious about is a lack of an environmental point in what you asked for, since I do think it’s a large concern of some students on this campus, how the development is going to look in terms of energy and sustainability. Was that every thought about?


tents
Well, the original demand is to withdraw the 197c plan and revise it along the 10 points presented by Community Board 9, some of which deal with environmental issues, such as the biotech lab. The points of compromise were basically what we believed the administration would compromise on within the limited time frame of the hunger strike. We basically thought that the administration had committed so many resources to the project that trying to get them to say up their buildings from LEEDs silver to LEEDs platinum would be something that could not heave been achievable.

What we didn’t understand was how recalcitrant the university would be—they literally would not yield on any single one of our points. But our fundamental position, and we let the administration know in every meeting, even where we presented our points of compromise, is that they really should withdraw their plan and revise it with the assumptions of the 197a plan and the ten points presented in August, which do have environmental components.

Considering that the University has at several points made conscious decisions to go ahead with this plan, and not conform it to the community’s delineated points, what made you think that students and five people going hungry could make that happen? Was that a realistic assumption? Did you consider that an achievable goal from the start?

We had reasons to not have good faith in the administration, but basically we were aware that a hunger strike was a dramatic escalation of prior tactics, and we hoped that there would be some leverage with the expansion administrators. Basically they drew a Chinese wall between expansion and the academic administrators, and while the academic administrators did engage in the process—that could be described as a negotiation process—and were receptive to the concerns we were bringing forth, the expansion team was simply not. This doesn’t end with the hunger strike, this continues, and we’ll have to see where we go from here.



One of the things I heard during the negotiations is how Maxine Griffith is bound by the process, she can’t make concessions to an outside group, when these things are being negotiated currently with the LDC. Would you have expected the administration to go outside of these legal restrictions?

No, no, we’re fully aware of what the LDC process is and we respect that, but we also feel that students are constituents of the university, through its expansion process, and we feel that as constituents of the university, we can demand that they bring certain things to the table. If you look carefully at the points we presented that had to do with the LDC, only a couple, the ones dealing with education and housing, we were demanding that the university come to the table with certain things. We weren’t demanding that the negotiations be public, we were simply demanding that the university represent our position in these negotiations [with the LDC], which is certainly within the legal process.

You speak of students as a constituency. I know this question was asked by Nina Bell and answered by Bryan Mercer [post pending], but how can you lay claim to representing the entire school, or even a significant percentage of the students, when there was no vote taken, and I know there were town halls, which maybe 50 people showed up to—

candlesWe don’t really claim to represent a majority of the school, but I feel that no organization can. Honestly, I think that I’d prefer to refer you to Bryan’s e-mail, I think he explained it very well.

The Manhattanville issue is such a technical issue, it basically requires a specialized and specialist knowledge for students to be active and involved. And as such, it’s not an issue that you can really get a deep level of involvement from vast sectors of the campus unless they’re mobilized by a smaller group. So specifically on the Manhattanville issue, but also in general, there is no group that can claim to represent all students.



Not even an elected student council?

I don’t feel even a student council necessarily can do that.



But at least a student council is something that’s set up to represent the students, right?

I mean yes, but—

Do you feel that it doesn’t? If so, why?

I don’t want to get into this discussion.



OK. Was the student council ever reached out to, in terms of getting buy-in on this?

Yes, of course, CCSC supported us in most of our demands.



On, like, the eighth day of the strike. And they didn’t take a position on expansion.

That’s true, that’s their own internal decision, but they were reached out to from the very first day.



In what way?

Conversations with CCSC members.



Were they not receptive to specifically the expansion element?

We allowed them to make their own decision. They have their own committee on the expansion, they’re allowed to make their own decisions.



Some of the things that were asked—were you aware of them being in the works already? Things like students in the community having access to Columbia resources—hasn’t the university already been working on that?

Anything out of that demand would have required a lot more negotiation, and basically the administration’s position is that they wouldn’t commit to anything, that they would just go through the LDC process. One of the things that we were asking for in the education demand is that there be a specialized program set up for students in the community that would be able to access course auditing privileges and library access and things of that nature. We were hoping that would go beyond Columbia-administered schools and Columbia-administered programs to something broader. But again, negotiations on that didn’t really happen.



She basically said she didn’t have the power to commit to that in this meeting.

She basically said that negotiations on that were ongoing with the LDC and that it was not her place to negotiate with students, even though as constituents of the university we have a role in determining what the University should bring to the table in such negotiations.



What power do you think that Griffith actually has in granting these requests?

She has rather significant power. She’s not the only one; she correctly characterized that there was a team involving herself, Robert Kasdin, and Lee Bollinger, but I believe she is a full member of that team with power. We would  have liked to have other people at the table, like Robert Kasdin, as well, but Maxine Griffith has legitimate power in this University, or at least she has direct access to those that do.



So you’ve characterized the negotiations as being entirely unproductive. Was there anything good that came out of them?


An understanding of how recalcitrant the university is on this issue, despite the fact that the university was in a situation of heightened tension, they were still unwilling to negotiate with students. They treated it like an information session.



Is there perhaps merit to the argument that the planning process is so far advanced that it would be backtracking to change the elements of that?

If you look at the six points of compromise, they’re filly accomodatable within the process. Our whole argument is not that Columbia shouldn’t expand, it’s that Columbia should be receptive and considerate of the local concerns of the expansion.



Housing was part of the six points, wasn’t it?

Yes, basically we argued that the dollar amount of the housing set up in their separate agreement with Scott Stringer set a ridiculously low floor for what should be negotiated with the Local Development Corporation, I’ve heard that out of the mouths of people involved in the process. So one of our points was that the floor should be set a lot higher.



So what about news coverage that says the number is getting a lot higher?

The argument is that separate agreements cut with politicians such as Scott Stringer undermin the LDC’s bargaining position, that was one of our points, that Columbia should not seek such agreements in the future, but rather should negotiate directly with the LDC.  The fact that they’re able to reach this agreement with Stringer set an artificially low floor to begin with. We’re not under the impression that that is necessarily the number that will stand in the end, but we think that the base point of negotiations should be a lot higher than that.



Do you think that Griffith or anyone else would have been willing to make it more of a negotiation had there been some sort of demonstration of broader student support?

Based on my experience, there actually is a broad level of support for demands surrounding Manhattanville. I say this out of canvassing dorms with the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification, and finding that if you actually talk to students about the problems with the plan, they’re generally supportive. So I really think the University is really entrenched in its mindset, and it would take a lot to change that.



So where from here?

That’s not an answer that I have. We’re going to debrief and decide that later. What I do know is that we’re not going to just go quietly and forget about all this, but where from here, I can’t speculate.



Cool. Anything else that needs to be said?

sceneWell I think that one of the most important things that came out of this was a sense of really strong social cohesion and solidarity among the people that were planning these. People really came together, and I think that no matter what happens in the future, that’s one of the most positive things that will come out of this. The sense of frustration that we saw in the Town Halls coalesced, and I think that we can keep that going after the strike.



Do you feel like the general student body is pretty up on these issue?

I think we need to do a lot more outreach, and we plan to do that. We don’t want to close off anyone from conversation, and I don’t believe we’ve ever willingly demonized anyone who disagrees with us as a racist or anything like that.



Why do you think people get that impression?

I think there was a backlash that among strike organizers at a lot of the insensitive comments that occurred on the Bwog and other publications, which I think that could legitimately be characterized as racist, and our frustration with those comments was overplayed to reflect a frustration with the broader student body that simply wasn’t there…but we want to remain open to conversation, and we want students to be up on this issue.

Interview by Lydia DePillis

Photos courtesy of David Zhou

Tags: ,

39 Comments

  1. ummmm  

    "But at least a student council is something that's set up to represent the students, right?

    I mean yes, but—

    Do you feel that it doesn't? If so, why?

    I don't want to get into this discussion."

    Considering this guy's refusal to touch on a subject that is of CRUCIAL importance to the issue at hand, it's not surprising that his "negotiations" with the administrators didn't go anywhere. If I were a Columbia admin., I wouldn't be negotiating anything with this fool besides the number of seconds he had left to leave my office.

  2. uh...  

    i know many of the people on my class's student council
    and i voted too
    and i dont feel they represent my, nor many others' opinions at all :-)

  3. jesus  

    how fuckin leninist is this? andrew asserts that manhattanville is too complicated for the masses to understand and be active on, so the matter has to be hijacked by a minority of students who pull out the hunger strike trump card? insane. really democratic. a real demonstration of faith in the demos, andrew.

    • Well  

      Is this really not that fair? I think the fact that Bwog posted a "Manhattanville Decoder" legitimizes the idea that not everyone understands (or cares) about the issue. Hijacked? If you really care about the issue, you're welcome to learn about it and become involved but that requires you educating yourself. No one is going to hold your hand for you through the entire process so you can give your opinion on the matter.

      • Silent Majority  

        Man, I am so sick of such patronizing attitudes toward non-vocal students on campus. There is a woefully obvious majority here that sees the Manhattanville expansion for what it is: necessary, beneficial to Columbia, and inevitable. We may not agree on the details of it (personally, I'd love to see displaced and even secondarily displaced community members get better compensation than is currently on the table) and we may not have all read the 197 plans word-for-word. However, that does not make our opinions invalid.

        You know what? I don't have the free time to debate every point of the expansion! However, I support it because I've "educated myself" by reading the available literature, talking to decision-makers, and thinking about it rationally. Because after listening to your loud concerns and reading your demands and such, not to mention (because I, like most of my peers, genuinely care) going to several informational events, I still think the expansion is a good idea, I'm quite content not to debate it any further. I've listened to what people have to say, and I think that above all the administration has done an excellent job soliciting feedback on this issue. What more do you want? How many town halls, Roone Arledge info sessions, and opportunities for comment do you need?

        Ultimately, we support this after having thought about it, and that's enough. We're not interested in protesting your protest, arguing with you, and generally acting like spoiled brats.

        • lolz  

          Okay, so you don't have the free time. TOTALLY LEGIT. Everyone has a variety of causes they would probably support if they had time. But the difference is between actively and passively supporting it.

          Those who showed up to the counter-protest were actively showing their distaste for the hunger strikers, in whatever way. The other 600 people who didn't show up were passively anti-strikers. This doesn't mean they don't have an opinion, it means exactly what you said in that it's not a top priority for them. The students who did show up to counter-strike clearly cared and had an active presence in what is happening on campus.

          In the same way, don't complain if you choose to not be actively engaged in this whole process. Is there a group that is staunchly pro-197C? If so, then that's fantastic that they're acting on behalf of those who feel the plan is fine and want to see it happen. But if there is none, then who's whining about not having a voice?

          • for #14  

            ok # 14, why should # 10 have to "be actively engaged in this whole process" for his voice to be legitimate?

            Do moderate muslims have to be as "active" and as "engaged" as Islamic terrorists for their voice to be valid and important?

            I think the silent majority is often held hostage by the vocal few who think, merely because they are vocal and are "actively engaged", they have the right to tell everyone else to "stop whining."

            Come on. That's a circular argument whereby your activism justifies you activism. The SM still need to know that your demands and the methods are valid for reasons other than you care a lot. This especially the case if the demands affect everyone else.

            If you fail to provide sufficient justification beyond "we are active therefore we are valid, and if you are not active you should stop whining," don't expect sympathy from the student body.

            Anyway, I agree with #12 - this whole pitiful saga has gone on far too long. Post-hac justifications for the strike are no good. They're too little, too late. At least, everything i've heard so far is "too little" and is certainly too late. Maybe someone will come up with an intelligent, if overdue, justification for this strike.

            anyway, happy thanksgiving to everyone here, regardless of where you stand, i gotta go and i think its about time we all stoped bitching at each other, myself included. ;)

      • agree with #10

        It is completely possible for someone to care and understand the issue, educate him/herself about it, decide that he/she is still against the strikers' demands, and have his/her voice hijacked because of the strikers' extreme tactics. why do some people STILL insist on painting anyone who opposes their beliefs as misguided and uneducated about the issue? sad.

  4. Chas Carey  

    I'm impressed with both the depth of these questions and the thoughtfulness of these answers, regardless of how I may personally feel about the veracity or completeness of them. It's a start. Thank you. Let's keep going.

    That being said, it's time to look beyond "insensitive comments," which were made on both "sides," towards something better. Equating those that might oppose the strike with frivolous anonymous commenters on the Bwog and calling them all "the face of evil," as a lone strike supporter did on these very pages a week ago, isn't going to help any cause.

    The community has yet to receive a response to the letter and nineteen questions personally delivered to the strike team by individual students, signed by current students and alumni. When will you respond, or even acknowledge them in a public forum?

    Speaking personally, I'd really hope you don't "debrief and decide this later." Debrief and respond to the greater student body as soon as possible.

    Certainly many disagreed with your methods and/or demands. I personally can't speak for those individuals, but in looking at the banner pictured above that says "the people will rule," I can't really see "the people" on your side if you refuse to speak with them in public.

    Don't say "I don't want to get into this discussion" about anything. You spoke for the student body. Start discussing what you spoke for with them. You might find that a lot of students that opposed your methods agreed with your demands. How might that agreement impact your future successes, without having the side effect of polarization due to methodology?

    I personally continue to await both the strike team's response to the letter and questions delivered last Friday and the beginnings of actual discussions their fellow students.

    • Lydia  

      Hi Chas,

      Bryan Mercer and Avi Alpert have responded in depth to the anti-strikers' questions. The responses are currently undergoing revision, and we'll post them when we get them.

      Thanks,

      Lydia

      • Chas Carey  

        Hi Lydia,

        I wait with bated breath. (I'm also finishing a paper. Urgh.)

        In the interest of full disclosure: at its peak, slightly more than 750 Columbia-affiliated individuals signed on to the "I do NOT support the hunger strikers" group, so there's no cohesive organization of anti-strikers so much as individual students who, for one reason or another, objected to the strike.

        The goal of that letter was to engage the strikers in a public community discussion. Glad to hear that it's finally happening. Hopefully, this is a first step towards broader discourse, not a last step.

  5. Tool  

    What a fucking tool. I didn't think I could hate the hunger strikers any more, but now he went and said all that.
    "The points of compromise were basically what we believed the administration would compromise on within the limited time frame of the hunger strike." (the response to why environmental issues weren't raised).

    Face it you dumbasses, this is just another issue, and you are just another group of activists. Your issue is no more important than, say, the Genocide in Darfur, so stop acting like we should be more indignant and that you should receive, on moral grounds, more of a response than those acting for something far more worthy than this shit.

    And if it's not clear already, you do NOT represent the voice of the student body, and it is self-righteous and pompous to think you do.

  6. I am  

    going to hunger strike until they put trans-fat back in the food at John Jay.

  7. that

    guy looks like a douche hipster to me. fuck him.

  8. asdfljk  

    Quit reporting on the hunger strike, bwog.

  9. arrgh  

    stupid hipster trash get some jeans that fit

    I am well informed about manhattanville, which is why I disagree with you and realize how crucial (and un-racist) this expansion is

  10. Dear Lydia,  

    The next time you interview one of these hipster things, please give him the finger. Please don't fret about "not representing the student community" and all that, because I assure you that we can all agree on a big fuck you to these pricks.

  11. zzzz  

    they've been eating for days. next controversy, please; let's keep things rolling.

  12. rjt  

    Haha, you're edgy because you called a person a "thing." I agree with very little Andrew says here, but he's a nice guy and certainly worth interviewing on this subject.

  13. Is anyone

    else creeped out by the Nixonian language of the "silent majority"? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon's_%22silent_majority%22

  14. it's  

    perfectly descriptive.

  15. Frances JeffreyCoker  

    "What a fucking tool... Face it you dumbasses, this is just another issue"

    "that guy looks like a douche hipster to me. fuck him."

    "stupid hipster trash get some jeans that fit"

    Why are so many people at this school such jerks? I would think that a University that admits only, what, like 9% of applicants would attract fewer ignorant people. Whether you agree with his opinions or not please show some decency...

    A combination of these rude attitudes with racism (im not accusing anyone of being racist) is what causes nooses and swastikas... which causes hunger strikes... so if you don't want to see the school "hijacked" again then cool it.

    • wirc  

      So, I'll avoid being racist. But really, most SCEGers have never read more than the fluffy summary of the 197-a, and certainly have never seen the FEIS. Reading the details 197-a opened my eyes to how much it bends the truth and how incredibly manipulative and stridently status-quo its proposals are.

  16. Frances JeffreyCoker  

    ...as a side note, message to Andrew: I think you're a pretty good looking guy. =D

  17. Andrew  

    certainly, I have looked at the DEIS and have started to look at the FEIS as well. I see that the administration, among other manipulations, appears to be defining affordable housing according to the Average Median Income of NYC instead of localizing it to the people that would actually be affected by Columbia's expansion in West Harlem. This would mean that the majority of "affordable housing" that CU is committing to build via the Stringer agreement wouldn't be "affordable" at all for the people that live there. This is s a problem, and a huge one at that.

    The fact is, one can't take the radical anti-development or the radical pro-development argument. Columbia should expand, and has a positive role to play in the community. It should expand, however, with concern for local democracy and the 197-a plan, which was even revised in August to greater accomodate Columbia's plans. Just because Columbia has enough political capital to push through its own plan through the approval process does not mean it should be allowed to do so.

    I have no interest in rhetorical arguments. The facts are what matter to me.

    • Well  

      I agree that the level of what is deemed "affordable" is a problem, but it's not Columbia's problem, it's the city's. Columbia and AKRF--who, by the way, composes the DEIS and the FEIS and so it is not the "administration" who devises these documents--are working in compliance with the city's prescribed levels of what is affordable. It is within these levels that Columbia can get city and state recognized tax breaks for building affordable housing. It is not within Columbia's scope to alter these levels so what you should have done is lobby the Bloomberg administration or the City Planning Commission. Kasdin, Bollinger, and their crew have no say over what is "affordable," though they are highly aware of the issue.

      What I find more troubling than this matter of what is affordable is your insistence on telling Columbia students that 5,000 people will be displaced by Columbia. That number corresponds to people who will be displaced by secondary displacement, which will occur whether Columbia expands or not because if Columbia doesn't expand in West Harlem, other developers will. If you feel that the administration is being manipulative with information, then the same can easily be said of you.

      • Andrew  

        I would never argue that what Columbia is doing in the expansion plan is illegal... it is doing what is legally mandated for it to do by the city processes. Unfortunately, we live in an extremely development-friendly city whose public review processes are inexorably leading to the approval of Columbia's plan in an almost unrevised form. That the standards of affordable housing in the mitigation sections of the EIS would define affordable in a manner that excluded the majority of the West Harlem community is not entirely surprising.

        My point is that beyond its legal responsibility to the city government, the university has a moral responsibility to its neighbors and its students to actually substantially mitigate its impact on the neighborhood. I don't necessarily see why holding the university to a high standard of social responsibility is considered a radical argument.

        In regards to the 5,000 number, you are absolutely correct. This refers to potential secondary displacement. It is, however, wrong to claim that this displacement is inevitable. First, any other developer would have to deal with the same ULURP rezoning process in Manhattanville that the university is dealing with - it couldn't just magically build there within existing zoning restrictions. Secondly, the reason that this number is so high is because a university is a workplace development, not a housing development. This means that in addition to taking up a lot of space, it generateds thousands of affiliates that will attempt to seek housing in the area. This accelerates existing market trends of displacement dramatically, as admitted by the impact statement.

        The two issues that this boils down for me is respect for local democracy and responsibility in mitigation. Columbia can totally exploit the process as it has been doing and claim that it has done both in a legal sense without even approaching that in a practical sense. It is a shame that the university has to be forced to do so, but if it will not do so on its own, then student pressure is the only thing that will work.

        • Ok..  

          I don’t know why you’re bringing up legality, I certainly didn’t, but regardless I think you’ve misunderstood my point. I agree that the university has a moral responsibility to provide affordable housing that’s actually affordable. The problem is, it’s not the university’s call. You’re perfectly justified to ask for a more realistic standard of affordable housing, but you need to make sure you’re asking that of the right people. Columbia administrators are not in a position to sit in their offices and decide what’s affordable—the city doesn’t want that, and the various communities in West Harlem don’t want that. If you want affordable housing that’s actually affordable, then demand that of the City Planning Commission, of the City Council, of Mayor Bloomberg. This is simply not Columbia’s decision.

          As to the 5,000 number, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. Without Columbia’s expansion, I envision a group of developers rushing to fill out ULURP applications. What would follow would be the exact same result of Columbia expanding, only it’s likely that these developers wouldn’t have the cash to create an affordable housing fund. If you think that a group of market-rate housing developments building in West Harlem wouldn’t drastically raise rents as Columbia will, then you haven’t been watching this city change. You're arguing that the scope of damage done would be smaller, but considering that this is a 30 year project and considering how much the city has gentrified naturally in the past 30 years, I think it’s fair to say they would have a similar effect.

          What’s not fair is you and other SCEG people “educating” students about the 5,000 people Columbia will displace without explaining what secondary expansion is, what the primary expansion displacement number is, and that Columbia has stated publicly that it intends to give more money to the housing fund. I’ve never been a Columbia advocate, but you’ve got a lot of people on this campus thinking that Columbia is going to immediately kick 5,000 people out of West Harlem, when that's not a fair representation of the University's plan.

        • Zach

          > "This accelerates existing market
          > trends of displacement
          > dramatically, as admitted by the
          > impact statement."

          No doubt. I think a better question is, how long can you rail against displacement? If Columbia didn't develop here, the next developers would NOT be going through ULURP -- they'd just be building to their zoning maxima where possible, or arguing for variances at DCP. The end result is still development, so it's a question of scale.

          Every neighborhood in New York is anti-development. Mine is, but we're lucky enough to have construction everywhere. We live in a city of decaying housing stock, where every single person feels entitled to live exactly where they live now. While I'm loath to kick anybody out of their house, if we let everyone in the city stay where they are, do you know where rents would be?

          It's a damn shame if anybody has to get priced out of their homes in Harlem. But if it doesn't happen, pretty soon everyone will be priced out of everywhere. If you let every neighborhood insist that their zoning will be exactly as it is now (and the city is kowtowing to this, in Harlem, in Flushing, even in central Manhattan), then development will never be allowed to match demand. And I, for one, will have left New York because it will be impossible to eke out a decent living. Meanwhile, the 60 residents of Manhattanville are sitting pretty in squat three-story buildings on expensive real estate.

  18. Come ON

    You know the reason they choose to demonize anyone who disagrees with them as ignorant and misguided? Because it's easier. It's the same reason I write off anyone who voted for Bush as stupid (and I'll admit I do it) -- because it's easier to characterize those who disagree with you as completely morons than to admit that anyone on earth may actually be as informed about the issues as you are, and still have come to a different conclusion.

    And in response to the end comment #22, no, "Frances JeffreyCoker," nooses and swastikas do not naturally lead to hunger strikes, as you seem to imply, they only do on this campus.

    One of the things that annoyed me most about the hunger strikers was their willingness to extend the racism of a few unnamed people who may not have even been affiliated with Columbia (we may never know) to the entire Columbia student body. It ofttimes seemed that they had been waiting around for an incident like noose/swastika/etc to have an excuse to claim that racist things happen on campus because of the core curriculum. I think racist things happen on any campus because racists come on all shapes and sizes, and probably wouldn't admit to their views on a Columbia application. Stop treating the hunger strike like it was a characteristic and measured response to some kind of far-reaching racism on this campus; we all know the hunger-strikers were just waiting to be able to use it as an excuse.

  19. Noose is loose

    How much do you want to bet this shithead is behind the noose nonsense?

  20. overkill  

    this would have been excellent a week ago. now it's just old news.

    • You

      You don't think that maybe the sudden uptick in racist graffiti was a publicity ploy for this shithead's 'hunger strike'?

      PS: Someone told me they had bags of candy that they ate from when no one was watching.

  21. THE PROBLEM  

    if columbia develops responsibly, the area will be nice, therefore gentrification will ensue.

    if columbia does whatever the hell they want, and it has a negative impact on the community, it will remain affordable.

    that's the problem with "community planning" in low income neighborhoods. "improving" the neighborhood ripens it for gentrification,

  22. The Big Lie

    is that Columbia is doing something that it shouldn't be doing.

    All developers have the right to build coalitions of support. This isn't exactly Robert Moses putting the cross-bronx through east tremont. (Without Robert Moses, btw, this city would be 1/3 as liveable as it is)

    Columbia owns most of the property. It is offering to buy the rest. The lone holdout at this point is someone on the record as having selfish interests, not community interests.

    The problem is that people in this city (and on this campus) have no real idea how real estate markets work. That and a warped sense of 'fairness' whereby one can live whererver one wants for as long as one wants.

    My guess is that many of the residents of Manhattanville weren't even born in NYC, let alone this country.

  23. Okay...

    "My guess is that many of the residents of Manhattanville weren't even born in NYC, let alone this country."

    And that's a valid argument against them, how? I wait, I forgot. It's not. It just makes you look like an ass.

  24. the point is...  

    I know, I know...That suburban Philly upbringing really gave him a realistic frame of reference for his issues, we have to give him that. But can we please get back to how much this kid really blows? ugh.

  25. hey

    Hey hunger strikers! News flash! YOU are gentrification!

  26. slippi

    that article was too fucking long and i didnt read it

    but this guys just a :O elitist piece of shit :x

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