This is being posted on behalf of Aretha, one of the strikers:
It is day three and my head is spinning. The dizziness does not seem to subside, but I still feel compelled to write and to voice out why I am striking. And why I refuse to STOP. Although I have already clearly stated why I am striking as an individual, let me clarify why I am hunger striking as a Barnard Student. I am addressing this question because I have been asked over and over again by friends, professors, and family why I am striking if almost all of the demands are specifically "Columbia University" based (especially the core reform and several aspects of ethnic studies) and if the Barnard administration seems to have it own way with changes in the curriculum. So for every one who is wondering why am I, a Barnard student, is starving let me explain:
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that one act of injustice is an act of injustice to all. Therefore when my fellow classmates and friends are not getting a nutritional education, I am affected. In fact, the reason I am who I am today is because of the knowledge and education that I have received from many of my fellow friends, many of which have taken the ethnic studies classes that exist thanks to the strike of 1996. It is by no means an understatement to say that I have often learned more from my friends than I have in the classroom. With that said, if those few ethnic studies classes did not exist, the "me" right now would not exist because my friends would not be able to teach me.
If this argument does not seem to convince you, think of the racist incidents of the noose and swatstica that have pervaded and created fear on Campus. It was made very clear that these hate crimes were directed towards very specific groups of people, but does that mean it didn't affect everyone? Does that mean you aren't supposed to care? I hope not. I know not.
So when people are confused and when people think my form of support as a Barnard student is extreme, I want to say: I think your lack of support is extreme. I am here in solidarity and because I AM starving when my friends are starving from the lack of true Knowledge. I am here in solidarity because I AM deeply affected by any hate crime on campus or in the community.
Every day, I remind myself I am here because I don't want Columbia University to become a part of the cycle of injustice and racism in the world. I would hope that as an Educational Institution, Columbia would be teaching True Knowledge so that whenever and whoever graduates can be the change that this world needs. My heart curdles at the thought of Columbia University being a money-making institution rather than a place to educate the self. What happens to the world when the people who are graduating are not provided with the opportunity to taste what a truly filling education is like?
Although I know that this hunger strike is not going to obliterate racism or injustice, and although I know that change does not happen in a day, I do know that every individual matters.
So, I will strike until the demands are met because my friends' demands are my demands too. And, I will strike although my family is not the family who is being kicked out of their home because of an expansion plan. And, I will strike because I have a right, not only as a Barnard student, but as an individual to want change and to want Justice. Until then, the support, the love, ,the empathy, and the solidarity is my fuel. It is my food.
Be the change you wish to see in the world