Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson has released the following email to Barnard students commenting on last week’s Occupy CU congregation at Barnard. She writes that, “Barnard Public Safety did not lock down the campus or attempt to prevent the assembly from taking place.” This contradicts claims made by Occupy CU that a “lockdown” took place at Barnard Hall. A-Hinks’ full message below:

Dear members of the Barnard Community,

Last week, an Occupy Columbia University general assembly took place on Barnard’s campus. Contrary to some reports in the campus media, Barnard Public Safety did not lock down the campus or attempt to prevent the assembly from taking place.

For all anticipated gatherings where the number of participants is high, unknown, and/or may involve a significant number of non-members of the Barnard and Columbia community, Public Safety must take certain basic precautions, preparing for any and all who may choose to attend. Had the group contacted Barnard’s Events Management office to register the event and provide details about the anticipated participants, the College gladly would have worked with them to provide an adequate space.

When Occupy Columbia arrived on campus last Tuesday evening, Director of Public Safety Dianna Pennetti tried to identify the group’s leaders and accommodate their needs. They were not prevented from gathering on the steps of Barnard Hall but rather chose to move indoors to the lower level of the Diana Center due to the rain. Director Pennetti asked only that they not block access to walkways or entrances.

As an academic community with a long history of activism, the College places the highest value on freedom of speech and assembly and fully supports the right to peacefully protest and spur the healthy exchange of ideas. We do however also have the responsibility to maintain order on our campus and to allow other members of the community to go about their daily business safely and without undue interruption.

For future gatherings, we urge all organizers to register with Events Management and to become familiar with the College’s rules for the maintenance of public order:

Although I am unable to attend their next general assembly, I have reached out to the organizers of Occupy Columbia and offered to meet at a future date. I hope and anticipate that this leads to an open and productive dialogue.


Avis Hinkson
Dean of the College