24/7 Columbia has shared a letter of support of their demands for accessible, in-person healthcare, signed by 140 members of the faculty from almost every department at Columbia, Barnard, and several graduate schools. Among the professors who signed on are University Professor Gayatri Spivak and History Professor Mae Ngai. In the letter, faculty agree that 24/7 healthcare is a crucial part of an equitable learning environment.
The letter states that faculty “join students in asking for 24/7, in-person, unrestricted health care, including counseling, trauma support, and medical services, for all members of the Columbia community.” It further emphasizes the importance of a zero-tolerance policy for gender-based misconduct, and that staff be “adequately trained in cultural competency.” Such policy changes are necessary, these faculty members argue, because, “if the University wants to fully achieve its mission of advancing knowledge and learning at the highest level and conveying the products of its efforts to the world,” it must invest in 24/7 healthcare.
The faculty letter accompanies the release of a petition advocating for 24/7 Columbia’s demands for free, around-the-clock healthcare free from policing. The petition, which has over 100 signatures, explains that “adequate healthcare is a necessary part of a safe and equitable learning environment,” and advocates students, members of the Columbia community, and other supporters to sign on.
Both the faculty letter of support and the petition are released as the first full day of the group’s sit-in in Lerner comes to a close. Members of the group are sitting in the building until their demands are met to protest the lack of these healthcare services and advocate that administrators provide them. Members of the group have received an email from EVP Suzanne Goldberg earlier today thanking them for their “commitment to student well-being at Columbia” and noting that though the group has already met with representatives from Columbia Health, that they are welcome to speak with Professor Goldberg further to continue negotiations.
Bwog will continue to update as the sit-in continues and the situation progresses.
Faculty letter in support of 24/7 healthcare:
To the Trustees of Columbia University and Barnard College:
As faculty and staff members at Columbia and Barnard, we support student demands for 24/7, in-person healthcare.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, the University community dealt with six student suicides. This year, the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT) survey, which analyzed sexual health at Columbia University (including Barnard College), revealed 27.8% of undergraduate seniors (36.4% of female seniors and 15.4% of male seniors) have experienced sexual assault. Despite these statistics, healthcare providers for the University community — Counseling and Psychological Services/Furman, Medical Services/Primary Care Health Service, and Sexual Violence Response — remain closed overnight and on weekends.
We join students in asking for 24/7, in-person, unrestricted health care, including counseling, trauma support, and medical services, for all members of the Columbia community. All health staff should be subject to a zero-tolerance policy for gender-based misconduct and be adequately trained in cultural competency. In order for health care to be fully accessible, it should be independent from all systems of policing, including the NYPD and Public Safety. Students should not be threatened with discipline for disclosing experiences of gender-based misconduct, mental health concerns, or disabilities to peers, family members, faculty, or administrators.
If the University wants to fully achieve its mission of “advancing knowledge and learning at the highest level and conveying the products of its efforts to the world,” we believe it needs to invest in 24/7 healthcare. Healthcare — including trauma support — is vital for fostering a community conducive to intellectual growth. Given that the University aims to create an environment in which students can learn, it is incumbent on the University to ensure all community members have access to the 24/7 healthcare necessary for students, faculty, and staff to thrive.