We would like to begin by reminding you how we got to this point. But first, we want to state why we're not here: we're not here because a small group of students decided to hold the university hostage. We're not here requesting a laundry list of concessions, or else. We're not here for our own selfish whims. We're here because this semester we saw hate far and wide on this campus. We heard President Bollinger the face and head of our university make inflammatory remarks. We've seen incidences of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic language in our community and we've experienced the personal attacks on Teachers College faculty in the form of swastikas and nooses. This is unacceptable in our community, but even less acceptable is the administration's lack of response. These acts and our university's inability to address them have only illuminated the vast inadequacies of this institution on numerous levels. We're here to address the ways in which this university contributes to the marginalization of communities.
How is it that students on our campus can say that other students are overreacting when they are outraged by nooses in our community? What is the responsibility of our university to provide resources to create a safe, inclusive and just campus community and responsible world citizens? We don't think our opinions differ so vastly on these points.
What we have laid out are ways we believe we can encourage this university to be accountable to its students and community, and specifically how we can (re)envision a process, administration, and university that will lead to this safe, just and inclusive community we imagine.
Unfortunately (re)imagining the process by which we operate is not simple and unfortunately it can not be satisfied by placing checkmarks next to a laundry list of requests. Further, considering the significant difference of power between students and administrators, it is rather unfair and impractical to expect us to trust that these concerns and commitments will be followed through on without having the proposals and time tables by which these commitments will be implemented. We see our current agreements over the document as a first step in ensuring our trust in the process as we move forward.
As to those many places where we have not made agreements or where we must defer to faculty, reviews and other processes, we would simply like emphasize the importance of the blue ribbon oversight committee proposed and agreed upon. It is simply unfair to expect students to become experts on the complexities of your bureaucratic system. In the future when approached with proposals, as we have in the past, we would ask you to tell us what you can do within your purview, if our proposals don't work, to help us to make our vision for what this community can be a reality.
We would hope that your commitment to our community would extend beyond the discrete proposals we have made- beyond, even, the discrete issues we have brought up to truly interrogate how you can use your power to play a role in affecting change at every level of this institution. We expect this to be a starting point, not an end point, but we need to see that this is understood by your side as well.
Just to reiterate this clearly, the student organizing in the past weeks was not just about how many hires we can get out of this process or specifically how much funding we can secure. Rather it should have been about you coming to us and saying "I may not be able to do this but I can call a meeting" or "I can start making calls to donors" or "I can have this or that discussion with the relevant administrators."
Please understand that this is about being able to see your commitment for a new vision of our community in a tangible way, not trying to coerce you into acquiescing to some self-interested and un-negotiable demands. In that spirit, we hope that you yourselves will, in the future, be making recommendations to students above and beyond our own to make our community a safer more inclusive place, but we'll leave that to you for now.
Rahel Aima, CC'10
Yadira Alvarez, CC'10
Desiree Carver-Thomas, CC'09
Ryan Fukumori, CC'09
Vivian Lu, CC'10
Andrew Lyubarsky, CC'09
Sam Rennebohm, GS'09
Julie Schneyer, BC'08
Andrew Tillett-Saks, CC'09
Christien Tompkins, CC'08
with the concerned students organizing around the hunger strike and demands of Autumn 2007