Trigger warning for discussion of rape and sexual assault.
Tonight, beginning around 8 pm, No Red Tape staged a protest on the Low steps. They projected messages such as “Rape Happens Here” on the facade of Low, and also had members holding large, similarly-messaged signs.
Public Safety officers inside Low, at immediate sight of the projection, hurried down the steps saying, “We need to shut this down.” They asked members of NRT to close the projection until “at least after 9, maybe,” to appease the otherwise acceptable, traditional demonstration by CUMB — playing the fight song — to lead the prospective students exiting Low.
Witnesses on the scene tell us that Public Safety repeatedly tried to get NRT to stop their protest when they moved to hanging signs that read “Columbia Protects Rapists” and “Carry That Weight” across Low Plaza, in lieu of the projections. Public Safety followed the group around the area, and asked them to relocate or stop. One officer addressed a member of NRT, asking, “Why are you doing this tonight? Who gave you permission to be on Low?” NRT continued their action despite Public Safety’s repeated insistence that they could not — or that they simply should not — demonstrate there.
The projections returned to the Low facade once prospective students had completely cleared the area.
You can find more updates on Bwog’s Twitter.
Update, 11:28 PM: We reached out to NRT member Becca Breslaw to comment on tonight’s events. Breslaw explained NRT consciously chose tonight for their protest as admitted students are currently at Columbia for Days on Campus. The group’s goal was to make these accepted students consider how big this issue is at Columbia before deciding to join the study body, while also bringing awareness to the fact that sexual assault is a prominent issue on other college campuses — regardless of where they choose to attend.
In regards to the protest itself, Breslaw stated that NRT did not break any campus rules tonight. Public Safety officials recognized that they could not stop the students from protesting. However, one unidentified woman actively disrupted the students’ demonstration by standing in front of their projector for approximately half an hour and asking for students’ UNIs for a “report” she was writing. Breslaw said she did not know what relation this woman may have to Columbia or the community.
NRT will also be hosting a Teach-In tomorrow afternoon from 12:00-1:30 PM in 509 Knox Hall. Members of NRT passed out fliers during their demonstration for the event, in order to invite the prospective students. Breslaw noted that the event will be held during the select free time that the prospective students have during their programming. Ultimately, NRT hopes to impart the information they need to become more involved with this cause, should they choose to attend Columbia.