November 16, 2007
*Tonight all remaining Columbia hunger strikers will break their fast*
Contact: David Judd, Student Organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org , 646.326.0944
Contact: Annie Salsich, Student Organizer, email@example.com , 508.314.0422
Contact: Linnea Hincks, Student Organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org , 646.388.0603
Official website: www.cu-strike.blogspot.com
VIGIL 9PM, NOV. 16TH, SUNDIAL ON COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY'S CAMPUS, W. 116TH ST., BETWEEN BROADWAY AND AMSTERDAM
In response to the concerns of the Coalition to Preserve Community and prominent community members for the Columbia University hunger strikers' health, the remaining hunger strikers will break their fast at tonight's 9pm vigil. Although, at the urging of community members, they will change their form of protest, the individuals who have been on strike and those who have mobilized around this movement are committed to continuing their struggle for an ethical expansion by Columbia into West Harlem.
Negotiations on the strikers' demands relating to Columbia's expansion took place yesterday. The administration's response to student demands was patronizing, and led to nothing but a restating of the university's current positions, demonstrating continual resistance to engaging in constructive discussion with its students. Ryan Fukumori, CC'09 and a student negotiator, noted that, on the issue of expansion, "This administration is in a moral crisis when its financial interests surpass the greater needs of the community." He added, "Despite significant advancements made in the areas of administrative and curricular reform, we have unfortunately not seen the same cooperative attitude from administrators on the topic of expansion."
Community members have expressed their greatest appreciation for the student movement that escalated into a hunger strike ten days ago. The administration's appreciation for the community is less apparent: community members were asked by present officials to leave the gathering of silent observers at yesterday's negotiation. It had been agreed at student insistence that negotiations would be made public, but it had not been explicitly specified whether community members were included in this agreement.
Students maintained their resolve over their demands regarding Columbia's expansion. The points brought by students to the negotiations yesterday were compromises from the students' original positions. Demands include: that Columbia take eminent domain completely off the table; that it promise to negotiate with tenants and the Local Development Corporation rather than landlords and city politicians; and that resources be allocated to creating affordable housing for the 5035 people who are living in unsubsidized housing in the area of expansion.