This afternoon, the Columbia class of 2021 released a letter in their Facebook group addressed to “the students of the University of Virginia and Charlottesville Community.” The letter condemns the violence of the “Unite the Right” rallies and expresses support for marginalized students. So…that’s pretty much how the class of 2021 is going to go. We’ve included the full statement below.
Shortly after Barnard President Sian Beilock emailed all of her students a statement on the riots in Charlottesville, VA, the incoming Columbia class of 2021 decided it was time to release their own statement, too. Yes, that’s right. Somehow the entire class of 2021 was able to discuss, debate, and then consolidate all of their mutually agreed upon opinions into a one-page letter. That they posted on Facebook. And signed “Class of 2021, Columbia University.”
There’s even a hashtag.
The letter opens with a proclamation: “Columbia University’s Class of 2021 stands in solidarity with students who were marginalized by the events that occurred on August 11th and 12th.” The focus of the letter was support for UVA as an academic institution, “a sanctuary for young learners.” It warns of the consequences if the US “continues to normalize hateful speech and actions.” We wonder what PrezBo—a staunch defender of (and expert on) the First Amendment—will say.
While, of course, a formal statement from a group of several hundred students who’ve never met IRL won’t be perfect, the most profound aspect of 2021’s letter isn’t necessarily its content—it’s the significance of making such a statement. The class of 2021 is setting the tone for their time at Columbia pretty early. The organizers of this letter are certainly making themselves and their peers known as a class that will not remain silent. But is that really how every member of the class of 2021 wants to be known? It’s a risky move to imply that the entire class agrees with the views expressed in the letter, let alone attach such views to the University itself.
We’re not saying the contents of the letter are good or bad, we’re just saying that the whole move was pretty yikes.
Here’s the statement, for your reading pleasure:
Update, August 16, 1:45 PM: Bwog wishes to clarify that we are not condemning the contents of this letter or any members of the class of 2021’s stance against the white supremacist and neo-nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville. This article was intended to call attention to the context of this letter and the manner it was written and signed.