Ethnic Studies with professors and hiring power
Major Cultures with classes on colonialism and race
responsibly through community input
Increase administrative support

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Press Release: Thursday, November 15, 2007


Two students to end hunger strike after winning concessions; four others to continue fast

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Contact: Jamie Chen, Student Organizer,, 240.305.7628
Contact: David Judd, Student Organizer,, 646.326.0944

More information:

Two Columbia University students have ended their hunger strike after eight days. The students, Emilie Rosenblatt, CC '08, and Bryan Mercer, CC '07, have been on strike since Wednesday, November 7, in support of demands relating to the way the university deals with race in its curriculum and administration as well as its planned expansion into West Harlem.

The students' decision was made last night after the Columbia administration offered significant concessions in three of the four areas of concern to students and faculty supporting the strike. However, the administration has yet to address students' critique of its planned expansion into West Harlem, and the displacement of Harlem residents expected to result. Four other students, Victoria Ruiz, CC '09, April Simpson, CC '11, Rich Brown, CC '10, and Sam Barron, BC '10, will continue to refrain from eating until the university revises its expansion plans to bring them in line with Harlem community needs, as expressed in Community Board 9's 197-a plan.

The two students who are ending their fasts made this decision after thorough discussions with the remaining strikers and with other allies. The students will begin eating once more both for medical reasons and as a sign of good faith in response to administrators' concessions regarding curricular and administrative reform. Emilie and Bryan were warned yesterday that Columbia Health Services officials judged them to be in serious medical danger and that they would be placed on involuntary medical leave for the remainder of the current semester should they refuse to end their strike. The two strikers were prepared to continue regardless, but when further negotiations produced acceptable results, they decided to transition to other methods of struggle.

According to Bryan, "the agreements reached tonight are a true beginning of progress," which "came about through the mass rallying of students, and show the ability of students to push through their concerns." Emilie noted that "even though I've stepped out of the strike, the struggle continues, and I will continue to be involved in other ways. It's crucial that we make progress on making the expansion responsible."

A meeting is scheduled for 4pm today at which students will negotiate with administrators regarding the major outstanding issue, Columbia's expansion plans. A separate meeting will take place to work out the last details of the positions to which administrators and the coalition of concerned students and faculty and administrators have already agreed in principle. Students and allies will rally at noon on College Walk at the center of campus in support of the remaining demands, and will hold their daily candlelight vigil at 9pm.