Amid a storm of student outrage over the cancellation of a fall Bacchanal, the University deans have issued a statement attempting to explain the reasoning behind the decision.
Two days ago, a letter was issued by the Bacchanal committee, the student councils, and a few other student organizations that revealed Columbia had canceled what would have been our first fall Bacchanal, and put the spring concert under review. It states that the deans vaguely cited “safety concerns associated with drinking and sexual harassment” in their meeting with student leaders as an excuse for the cancellation.
Columbia’s statement alleges that the concert “was never officially scheduled or approved,” whereas students leaders had said that three artists were booked by July 8th for a September 14th concert. Despite claims made by those student leaders, No Red Tape, and CASV, PrezBo’s regime firmly asserts the following: “the decision not to move forward with this concert is not a response to the issue of gender-based misconduct and sexual assault on campus.” No, rather, the timing was poor, as students would have still been “settling into their coursework, which, of course, is the primary reason they are at Columbia,” and there were safety concerns. The statement then goes on to repeat all of the steps the administration has taken to address our Gender-Based Misconduct Policy, because this cancellation definitely wasn’t related to that at all.
We might not be back at school yet, but the war on fun rages on. The full statement can be found below, emphasis ours.
While the spring Bacchanal concert is a tradition on the Columbia campus, there has never been a Bacchanal event of this scale in the fall, and this concert was never officially scheduled or approved. The undergraduate deans decided, as their prerogative, based on a history of concerns about safety, crowd control and inappropriate behavior during the spring concert, that student organizers should not move forward with a similar concert during the second week of the fall semester, when students are still settling into their coursework, which, of course, is the primary reason that they are at Columbia. While we appreciate that student organizers stepped up over the last year to begin to address these continuing issues, and those efforts resulted in a much-improved event last spring, this is not the appropriate time to be adding a new, large-scale Bacchanal event to the fall calendar. We look forward to continue working with students to address these issues in the future.
We also want to be clear that the decision not to move forward with this concert is not a response to the issue of gender-based misconduct and sexual assault on campus.
Over the last year, we have taken a number of steps in response to the sexual assault issue such as developing a new, soon-to-be-announced Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students based on recent guidance from the White House and the U.S. Department of Education, and many other actions, including enhanced mandatory training of incoming undergraduates about sexual violence on campus and the meaning of consent, as well as bystander training, which are beginning this summer, plus continuation of training on an ongoing basis during the school year. We have expanded professional staff in the Office of Sexual Violence Response to ensure 24-hour, on-call access to professional staff, while keeping fully intact existing access to peer advocates. We are also opening an additional location for the Rape Crisis Center in Lerner Hall, which will provide a fully accessible alternative to the current location in Barnard’s Hewitt Hall, and have created a new website, http://titleix.columbia.edu, that provides resources for students, faculty and staff. President Bollinger has also created a new Executive Vice President for Student Affairs position, a role that will be responsible, in part, for combatting sexual violence, and the University Senate has vowed to remake the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault to increase student representation and the Committee’s transparency. We also plan to release annual aggregate data reporting sexual misconduct in the near future and will be instituting an annual campus climate survey.
We are committed to providing an academic and living environment that emphasizes integrity and respect, and we want to make sure that we begin this academic year by maintaining a campus environment that is safe and welcoming for all members of our community. While we do want students to relax and come together as a community, and know that many students look forward to Bacchanal, we do not believe a new large-scale fall concert is the best way for it to happen.