As an alumna of Columbia University I am proud to stand in solidarity with the hunger strikers and those who work so tirelessly to support them. The demands of the strikers, continuing the struggle of so many student activists before them, are in no way novel. Their existence is proof of the evasiveness and insulting disdain of an administration that counts on promises of committees and meetings, and the short stay of most undergraduates to maintain the status quo. Today's hunger strikers and organizers have taken a bold step to emphasize the severity and urgency of the situation at Columbia; their demands must be met and their call for change supported.
Over my four years as an undergraduate I sat with fellow concerned students in meeting after meeting, with committee after committee to achieve important, but limited successes. The administration's failure of us and our predecessors has led to the need for the hunger strikers' actions today.
Columbia University has an alarmingly long history of devastating disregard for marginalized communities both within the university and in the neighborhood that surrounds it. Columbia as an institution, comprising members of the university at all levels, has chosen silence and a nearly stagnant rate of change in the face of demonstrated racism, homophobia, classism, religious prejudice and other forms of bigotry. At times, the university itself has perpetrated these very injustices through direct action or through appalling lack of concern. A better Columbia necessitates a strong student voice on the side of justice and an inclusive, responsive, and accountable university, and these students have taken the necessary steps to demand their voice be heard. Administrators, faculty, alumni, and other students must in turn stand up for what is right and just and lend their support to these brave and stead-fast strikers and the vital changes they call for.
Jennifer Oki, CC '07