On Tuesday night, the newly-formed “anti-racist coalition” on campus met in Hamilton to host a teach-in and make public a list of demands on salient issues. The coalition, largely a conglomeration of old SHOCC hands, SCEJ members, and Ethnic Studies majors, is a self-declared response to the bias incidents that have occurred this semester and a self-conscious revival of prior demands made by SHOCC and Columbia Concerned Students of Color. Their banners and emails speak of revolution on campus, students taking back the University, and a new era of student participation and protest. They are cryptic, however, when asked about their immediate plans. Will they have a name? Will they stage protests or other actions beyond tentative sundial vigils? The campus at large is just going to have to wait and see.

At the teach-in, recent grad Jenny Oki and current super-senior Bryan Mercer spoke to the assembled students about the history of bias incidents and efforts like SHOCC over the past few years. Students in the room took turns reading the list of stated objectives (reproduced after the jump) that includes demands for bureaucracy reformation, new bureaucratic posts, withdrawal of the University’s Manhattanville plan, and Ethnic Studies empowerment. (All in all, there are a lot of “musts” in the list, which should go over well with the powers that be.) Even some coalition affiliates seemed somewhat unclear as to the current direction of the group– they’re going places, but they’re not telling anyone but the most intimate circle where.


Administrative Reform

1. We demand more advisors and counselors for cultural groups, students of color, the LGBTQ community and communities of faith, with student involvement in the hiring process of said personnel. We ask that the Office of Multicultural Affairs be expanded physically and responsibly, and that more support for collaboration between the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Columbia and the Multicultural Affairs Office at Barnard be given by the University administration.

2. We demand a Vice Provost for Multicultural Affairs to administrator and direct the University’s policies affecting students within all the schools of the University.

3. We demand that Columbia’s Public Safety announce instances of hate crimes when they are reported and issue and an annual report of reported bias incidents and hate crimes and how they have been addressed.

4. We demand that Columbia’s Public Safety announce instances of hate crimes when they are reported and issue an annual report of reported bias incidents and hate crimes and how they have been addressed.

Ethnic Studies

1. Given the inadequate number of core faculty present next semester, we demand the completion of 2 core faculty hires per year for both CSER and IRAAS until each has 12 core junior and senior professors, which must be maintained indefinitely.

2. The academic review of CSER and IRAAS must begin in Summer 2008 where the board must include only ethnic studies scholars from outside institutions as well as Columbia ethnic studies majors. The academic review must also research the steps necessary for the creation of Queer Studies, which has historically been placed under Ethnic Studies at other institutions, as well as Native American Studies which must be considered by the university following the review’s completion.

3. Interested Ethnic Studies majors collectively, show through a vote, must be give 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.

4. To maintain the integrity of Ethnic Studies and the very possibility of its sustained growth, the CSER and IRAAS must be granted the ability to make hires autonomously. This is not a call of the immediate departmentalization of Ethnic Studies. Rather it is a call for the Ethnic Studies programs to make hiring decision on their own accord, without the need of outside departments to lead the hire. We recognize that this is unprecedented for centers and institutes throughout the University, but see it as a necessary step in creating Ethnic Studies classes and research initiatives that are accountable to the field and on par with peer institutions.

The Manhattanville Expansion and Community Accountability

1. Columbia withdraw its 197-C proposal to rezone Manhattanville immediately.

2. After withdrawing its proposal from the review process, Columbia submit its proposal to Community Board 9 for revision in line with the principles of the 197-a plan.

3. After making the relevant changes to its rezoning plan, Columbia negotiate a substantive community benefits agreement which serves to mitigate displacement created by the university’s presence and addresses job creation, environmental problems and university-community relations.

The Core Curriculum

1. The reformation of the Major Cultures requirement to contain a course in a seminar format which challenges students to think critically about the issues of racialization and colonialism, global phenomena which also are at the Core of the “western” experience.

2. More student voice and seats within these committees, and that their process of selection be better publicized, so that students’ passions for changing the Core do not have to flare up in moments of spectacle, but can be incorporated into the constant process of developing the Core Curriculum.