Bwog is always ready to listen to anyone’s grievances. Wannabe malcontent Britt Fossum attended an impromptu meeting of CUCR that was held in place of the cancelled board meeting. Currently, SGB and CUCR are holding a town hall.
The official Sunday night board meeting of the Columbia University College Republicans was postponed and then cancelled entirely by current President Kate Christensen in the wake of the “sham elections” of last week, allegedly because of threats of physical violence to members of the board. Republicans were so unhappy with the decision to cancel the meeting—which would have been the last meeting of the school year—that several board members and general members wrote up a list of grievances, submitted it to Bwog, and met unofficially to talk through recent events as a gathering of friends. (That means that most of this unofficial meeting was off the record, though several attendees were very willing to make statements about what had occurred.)
Essentially, last night would have been the first meeting of the newly elected board—meaning that none of the current board members have actually been sworn into office. The gathering of CUCR members in Lerner Hall was a mixture of people from the club: members of last year’s board, newly elected board members, and general body members. And they were agitated. Tensions were high among this group and some spoke of an “atmosphere of fear.” They all generally agreed that the recent elections were in violation of the moral spirit of their organization.
In fact, there was so much arguing happening in the meeting itself that a new intruder in the piano lounge could barely be heard: a man who was significantly older than any of the undergraduate students present, who repeatedly threatened one of the male attendees with threats. He claimed that the “FBI was across the street,” and that the student would not be attending Columbia next year after being expelled or imprisoned or worse. Eventually he turned around and left the gathering and few at the gathering seemed too shaken by the interruption. One member mentioned offhand that she had seen him before at the election but that he was not regularly involved with the group. This was confirmed by other attendees who identified the intruder as “Grantham.” The group decided to move to the conference room upstairs.
The group of CUCR members last night was having trouble deciding on anything, which was not helped by the addition of a significant press presence. What had probably been planned as a calm discussion of a course of action quickly devolved into a shouting match. One club member, Victoria Fernandez Grande, continually emphasized the fact that they should try to push for discussion before the end of the school year. She noted that the group needed to clearly state what their grievances were and to discuss them during an additional general body meeting, during reading week if necessary.
Up until this point, the board had only been meeting with one or two people at a time to speak about the events, and Victoria was not pleased with how the individual meetings were going, others adding that it introduced the chance for dissidents to be intimidated. She continued saying, “Deliberately or not there has been no communication between them and us. We need to have communication…the point is what are we going to do—not what they have done.”
More club members came during the course of the night. The conversation spiraled back into rants about whether or not there actually had been threats of violence against Eyvana. Many members were hostile to the presence of the media. Frequently cited was the the public “leakage” of their original document to Bwog. Members who were in support of the submitting of the petition to the media emphasized that it was only in reaction to the cancellation of the board meeting. Kyle Dontoh, incoming Director of Finance, was willing to go on record at the event and was supportive of allowing the press to cover what he referred to as the “Silenced Majority.”
As the meeting’s energy flagged, students contemplated the legitimacy of the current board members if their efforts to make changes failed. Victoria again voiced her opinion on Eyvana Bengochea’s statement to Bwog: “The fact that she did that means that she is not capable of leading this club.” This sentiment was echoed by another CUCR member who wished to remain anonymous who chimed in saying, “Someone who wrote that statement is not fit to lead this club.”
People left awkwardly, with Spectator taking photographs of several club members. However, two of the CUCR dissidents present at the Lerner Hall meeting were later seen deep in discussion with Eyvana Bengochea and members of the board in Furnald Lounge. Later that night, members of the club asked Bwog to remove a previously posted list of the signatories of the list of grievances and repeatedly asked for moderation of names in the comments. This seemed a touch melodramatic as the list of names had been sent directly to members of the CUCR board and there was no clear reason for why the names should be made unavailable to the general public. Tonight, SGB and CUCR held a Town Hall to discuss the legitimacy of the elections, though notably not to actually do anything about the situation other than to talk over each other some more.
Bwog doesn’t listen to “the man,” Bwog is “the man” via ShutterStock.