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

This is what we are fighting for. Support the strike & sign the petition. Contact us at

Monday, November 5, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions

1.) Why now?

The recent acts of hate on this campus have lent urgency to a long-existing effort to address this university’s climate of marginalization. Furthermore, we coordinate our efforts around the City Planning’s decision on Columbia’s rezoning proposal for West Harlem, which is due in less than two months. Lastly, we act in solidarity with the students that recently mobilized around the Jena Six case, which we see as a larger struggle against racism and injustice.

2.) How do acts of hate affect and relate to campus climate?

On September 24, controversial Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited campus, and Columbia President Lee Bollinger delivered polarizing introductory remarks, dividing the world between "civilized" and "ignorant," and feeding into a national drumbeat to war. Less than two days later, racist and anti-Muslim graffiti appeared in SIPA. Within the weeks that followed, a Black Teacher's College professor found a noose hanging from her office door, and anti-Semitic graffiti defaced Lewisohn Hall and the office door of a Jewish professor at Teacher's College.

That the University’s policies and structures inadequately reflect a commitment to understanding and thinking critically about race, gender, culture, and power only mirrors and reinforces the atmosphere stirred by the recent acts of hate.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs lacks the staffing and space to sufficiently handle the scope of its responsibilities. The Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and the Institute for Research in African American Studies are understaffed, underfunded, and have little autonomous power with which to extend their programming. The Core Curriculum marginalizes issues of racialization, colonialism, sexuality, and gender in a way that further marginalizes students themselves. And Columbia's current expansion plan would displace at least 5,000 people (according to the University's own estimate) and bulldoze almost every structure in the area. The cumulative effects of the Universities’ action and inaction send devastating messages about its notion of community, power, and cultural understanding.

3.) What's a noose at Teachers College got to do with institutional change at Columbia?

The Teacher’s College is a part of the university community and bureaucracy should not distance our neighbors. The noose is not an isolated incident and what happens at Teacher’s College effects and contributes to the atmosphere on our campus. Vital is our ability to respond and understand as a unified community.

4.) What are we demanding?

We demand that Columbia expand ethically, support Ethnic Studies, reform the Core Curriculum, and improve administrative support for students of color, students of faith, and LGBTQ students:

Because our cause is multi-faceted, our demands call for change on all levels and ask for a spectrum of responsibility:

• a more systematic response to hate crimes from Public Safety
• a more collaborative expansion effort from the administration
• a revision of the Core that encourages critical engagement with issues of racism and colonialism
• more resources and support for the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER), the Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS), and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).

We don't just want new programs or changes and improvements to existing programs. We want lasting changes in the power dynamics between the university, its students, and its community.

For a more detailed list of demands, see

5.) Why so many demands?

Why shouldn't students want more say in their life at the University?

Not one thing will change an institutional culture and not just Bollinger is responsible. Students experience life at Columbia in a number of spaces and ways, and only looking across issues will make a substantive change. We are looking toward not just Bollinger, but the Trustees, the Committee on the Core, and the Vice President of Arts and Sciences to help us in our efforts. Administrative reform, the Core, Ethnic Studies and the expansion are just the beginning of the problems with this university, but at least these four concerns begin to question the roots of them.

6.) Why this tactic?

We strike because student input on these issues in meetings, through protests, and through other avenues of vocalization has been ignored or patronized, and the response to our demands for change has been woefully insufficient. Hunger striking does not induce harm on others, and it offers strikers the opportunity for reflection, introspection, and self-examination. A hunger strike is also a physical symbol of our intellectual and spiritual starvation under the university administration's current policies.

7.) Who are we?

We're not a campus group. We identify with the past four, twelve, twenty and forty years of student struggle. We know these issues are not new, but we know these issues well. We experience these issues in our daily lives on campus. We're here for the future generations on this campus – students of color, queer students, allies. We are the students who searched for safe spaces after the visit of Ahmadinejad, the harassment of an Asian-American student by the NYPD, the scrawling of graffiti in SIPA, the hanging of a noose on a Teacher's College professor's door, the spray-painting of a swastikas and anti-Semitic caricatures. We're students who've heard too often the anti-democratic platitudes of the administration. We stand in solidarity with each other, and we stand in solidarity with other students who identify with these issues.

8.) What are ways to help?

Tell a friend
Tell your family
Tell the institution how you feel
Come out to the tents any time during the day
Join the vigils 9pm every night at the sundial
Visit our site for more ideas, updates and information: