Columbia can’t seem to eighty-six ’68

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Thai Jones, CU American history Ph.D. candidate and son of Weather Underground founder Jeff Jones, has written a piece in today’s New York Times about the University’s most recent hunger strike and the history of self-imposed starvation as a means of political activism. Jones compares much of the campus’s anti-hunger striking sentiments of just a few months ago with the similar frustrations of 1960s students towards Students for a Democratic Society.

Jones interviews several Columbia students, one postulates that the hunger strike was an argument “that our education has us starving intellectually”—the apparent appetite of the affordable housing-eating octopus non-withstanding. Jones also speaks to his own parents (hi Mom!), who also agree with his favorable comparison of Mark Rudd et al. to 2007’s hunger strikers.

Top right photo from NYT via Getty.


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  1. Anonymous

    This brings me some minor lulz.

  2. XJE  

    Thai was a TA for History of the City of NY. With Ken Jackson's article about the Flushing remonstrance last week, that's two Times articles from HIST 3535 people within the span of 10 days.

  3. hah

    apparently anyone participating in a weeklong protest at columbia can be assured lasting fame in the pages of nyt and elsewhere for decades to come. ask mark rudd. and now the hunger strike lives on beyond its time as well...

  4. 1C6T9

    Man, some major SHIT is gonna go down this semester - I can feel it.

    It's gonna make the hunger strike + Ahmedinejad distant memories.

    • Honestly,

      I hope that you won't have to suffer the ill-effects of diarrhea. But, if you do find yourself with a "major SHIT gonna go down [the toilet]," I recommend some Pepto-Bismol.

  5. piece

    the piece kinda blew. misrepresented much of the strike and didnt really have much of a point

  6. kvetches

    "Our education has us starving intellectually?" Bitch bitch bitch moan moan moan. Christ. You know, some things you can learn on your own.

    • remember

      it's not "intellectual" for these people if it doesn't misappropriate the word "theory" to deconstruct the presumptions of others in the name of their own presumptions.

      see the one "thinker" they mentioned throughout the entirety of their protest - assata shakur, a murderer whose most memorable quote is a paraphrase bordering on plagiarism of comments made by (guess who?) core authors marx and rousseau.

  7. what do you  

    call it when a starving radical activist tries to play baseball?

    hunger strike three!

  8. white male

    i hate it when these uppity minorities challenge my rightly held dominance.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, those hunger protesters really stuck it to whitey.

      What with abandoning the residents of Harlem when it came to expansion.

      Giving white folks even more knowledge is the best way to uplift minorities.

      • Yeah,

        obviously it's the hunger strikers' fault now that the City and Columbia is moving forward with the expansion.

        Man, they didn't do anything to stop Columbia's expansion plans! They shoulda taken a cue from us and just on their asses while Columbia bulldozes Harlem.

        And they educated so many white folks! Because everybody knows only white people go to Columbia! They didn't reach out to any minorities at all!

        • Anonymous

          Um...they stopped hunger striking and the plan is going forward exactly the same? I don't really understand how they did anything at all when it came to actually helping a minority group. Most of their benefits will be granted to upper class white people, since that is the plurality of people who attend Columbia.

          Thus, you are wrong on every count.

          • meh  

            They think that by having more white people learn about ethnic studies, white people will be less likely to commit hate crimes and otherwise oppress minorities, so the minorities will benefit from the reduction in the probability that they will fall victim to a hate crime.

          • You're right

            It's their fault that they didn't sacrifice more for expansion, even though all of the strikers were involved in anti-expansion activities. They should have blown up the City Council building or something to stop Columbia. Or they should have just sat on their asses like you because overturning the plan is futile anyways.

            No you're wrong, commenter 18. Ignorance. If you think the strikers were okay with the status quo, and if you think "the plan [was] going forward exactly the same", then you're mistaken, and you don't know anything about what happened afterwards and the efforts to stop Columbia's expansion.

            Why do you people insist that it's the strikers' fault that Columbia's expansion plan was allowed to proceed?

          • Anonymous

            Um...because they stopped striking when they got everything except their expansion demands met?

  9. So last semester

    I hope the hunger strikers went abroad.

  10. uh...

    why so much animosity towards white people? we're not all racists or upper class.

  11. Faulty logic

    You try to stop eating for days you fucking douchebag and see if you can go on forever. To continue on til the Council vote would have meant not eating for weeks. And again, if you can't get it through your head - the end of the strike was by no means the end of the anti-expansion campaign. So instead of complaining about how the strikers did nothing why don't you take a minute and think about how much you did to stop Columbia from taking over Harlem. If you were involved in SCEG or some community organization at some point, then I commend you. If you weren't, well then stop your whining asshole.

  12. umm

    All that article succeeded in doing was convincing me never to take a class with Thai Jones. The man clearly can't write.

    Also, what should the Barnard girl care about the Core's supposed intellectual starvation??
    Get off ma stoop, BC.

  13. HA!

    If you weren't willing to starve to death, then your little pissant "strike" meant nothing more than a scare-and-tear-mongering attention grab. I can't believe that references to Gandhi and those Irish guys (who did starve to death) were even raised.

  14. The references

    to Gandhi and Irish prisoners were made by people outside of the strike campaign, specifically that Bwog/ Spectator columnist.

    And commenter 27, piss off and stop inferring shit. Sympathizing with the strikers by defending their decisions not to starve themselves for two or three more weeks does not mitigate the seriousness of the strike. Again for your faulty conclusions, Anonymous. Goes for you too #26. Why don't you make a sacrifice as daring as the strikers did - I doubt you'd be willing to starve a day to protest the expansion.

    I'm out. I've had enough of you whining assholes. Jealous much? Stop assuming that the strikers possessed only the most self-interested of intentions; why don't you start looking at their records and pay attention to the activities that will never make it onto their resumes. Yeah, I don't think you'd even compare.

    • Poster 26

      No, I won't be willing to "starve" (which only starts after 3-4 days, biologically speaking) for a day to protest the expansion. Why?


      Let's take the reverse. If the expansion were cancelled, would I be willing to "starve" myself for a day to protest that? No. Why?


      Get it into your little whiny head. You accomplished nothing but draw attention to yourself and besmirch the name of this university and by extension the reputation of the overwhelming majority of students who don't sympathize with your objectives AND don't respect you for having the "courage" (aka arrogance) to make a "stand for your beliefs" (aka poorly executed public theatrics).

    • Anonymous

      I don't even support expansion, and I generally agreed with the strikers about their points of contention. But I think their lack of serious regard when it came to expansion certainly makes it appear as though they were not serious and also did not care about Harlem as much they cared about Campus glory.

      I'm not saying it was easy, but I'm saying they had Columbia on the ropes. They gave up, selling out Harlem, and showing their true colors. Thus I think my criticism is valuable and true.

  15. negotiator  

    while I am sure you mean well, I'm afraid this is a serious misreading of the situation. As one of the negotiators who focused on the expansion, it was clear that Columbia was going to wait us out indefinitely, instead of giving us even minor concessions.

    There were two different sets of negotiations - one with Quigley/Dirks on academic issues and one with Maxine Griffith on expansion. The tenor of these were utterly different - Quigley and Dirks definitely sympathized with the goals of the strike and were willing to work with us whereas the expansion people treated every meeting as an information session about the merits of Columbia's plan and how it is going to save Harlem from itself.

    As such, we weren't about to sacrifice the health of our friends in such a manner. You should know that the majority of the strikers are SCEG members and are continuing to work with the opposition community groups as actively as before.

    And as has been repeated ad nauseum *the strike did not attempt to stop the expansion, it attempted to push the university to change it to be more accountable to community needs in a compromise solution*...

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