The King’s Crown Leadership Excellence Awards are coveted by some, as they are given to “students which have offered outstanding leadership to their community/ies with exemplary commitment and energy.” The awards ceremony began tonight at 6:30 in Roone, and some of the students being recognized are wearing red tape on their wrists in solidarity with recent attempts to fix Columbia’s sexual assault policy. Those wearing tape signed the following statement:
To the students, faculty, and trustees of Columbia University and Barnard College:
Tonight we are all honored, thankful, and humbled to have been nominated by our peers for King’s Crown Leadership Excellence Awards. Your support and recognition means a great deal to us. We are also deeply grateful for the work that so many others have done this year to make Columbia a safer, more supportive place.
This past year, students have pushed the University to take several important steps to reform the University’s inadequate, opaque services and policies for preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors on our campus. We want to recognize the years of work that both students and staff have spent and the positive changes that have taken place this year. But as we receive these awards, we need to say, unequivocally, that those steps are far from sufficient and that this work is far from done.
Throughout this year, countless members of our community have experienced violence on our campus, and the system has been slow to change. We are deeply frustrated and concerned that, after a year of student advocacy, many of our proposals have gone unanswered. After a full year of students demanding specific and concrete change, there are still no professional staffers available at night at the Rape Crisis Center. Interim measures and accommodations have not been meaningfully clarified. There has been no further training for staff on how to properly support queer and transgender survivors. There has been no adequate reexamination of the adjudication and appeals processes.
These changes cannot wait any longer. We don’t need another statement that the University is listening to us–we need our University to take action. Every day that our voices are not heeded, our friends and peers are forced to remain in the same classes or dorms as their rapists, never informed that they have other options. Every day that changes aren’t made, students in crisis may have to wait overnight to see a professional at the Rape Crisis Center, or even weeks before seeing a counselor at Columbia Psychological Services. Every day the adjudication process isn’t reconsidered, a survivor is forced to go through a process that is broken, painful, and outwardly against them. We cannot be patient as the system fails those in our community. We cannot be silent when a lack of information and services is actively harming our friends and loved ones.
This violence is unacceptable and calls for urgency. Our goals are not yet achieved, our fight isn’t over — and it won’t be until every action to protect students and survivors on campus has been taken. We need the University to act.
Adam Wilson, Caitlin Lowell, Darializa Avila Chevalier, Dennis Dacarett, Gerardo Romo, Haylin Belay, Lena Jorde, Liam Bland, Milo Inglehart, Sejal Singh, Shondrea Thornton, Xavier Jarrett