STATEMENT OF INTENT
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
In an attempt to make our goals uniform and known throughout all involved parties we have drafted the following working document. Please reference it when speaking about the protest and the immediate happenings on campus and the larger systemic problems of our University. Please feel free to direct any comments, questions, or suggested amendments to StopRacism2004@yahoo.com with "amendment" in the heading.
We have gathered during this time of heightened racial hostilities on campus to mobilize against the isolation of minority and oppressed groups on this campus, and the continuing trivialization of their concerns.
Our protest and immediate goal is two-fold. First, as students we should stand in solidarity against racism, homophobia, classism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and other forms of hostility within our community. Second, we hope to highlight the disconnect between the goals of democracy, equality, and diversity which the university claims as foundational principles for both its curriculum and student life, and the lived experience of members of marginalized groups on this campus. The disregard that the university has shown for these communities is evident in its lack of response to recent public events and statements made by members of the student body. We hope to understand the ways in which the administration plans to work toward a true enactment of the diversity outlined in the university’s mission statement. At present, we feel that marginalized groups of students, despite facing all manner of silencing agents, bear the burden of creating and representing diversity themselves, with little support from the administration. This having been said, we do acknowledge the recent issuance of statements by President Bollinger and Dean Columbo and hope that these words are expeditiously put into actions.
It is important that all issues of oppression are addressed and our assemblage is representative of the ways we as a community, can come together in this time of hostility and administrative disregard to make a real difference in policy regarding oppressed and ignored groups on campus. To this end, it is necessary that we make a truly concerted effort to foster a Columbia University community that is safe, and respectful, and supported by this institution. We envision this as the beginning of a long process through which we can create the kind of university we desire, a university where people do not emerge feeling that they have been at best neglected and at worst targeted for harassment during their experience as students. Such a broad and dramatic change involves a serious reexamination of the university’s curriculum, administrative and advising structure, and its procedures for complaint and conflict resolution.
We have chosen to begin this effort with a highly visible silent protest. We have called for dressing in black as an illustration of solidarity with students of both the past and the present. Black has been the dress code for student activist movements throughout the history of Columbia University as well as additional student movements. Through this symbolic gesture, we are connecting ourselves with movements from which we come and view ourselves as defending the achievements of our predecessors as well as building upon the work that has yet to be completed.
It should be noted that these mobilization efforts are not exclusive to demanding actions taken toward the Columbia University Marching Band, the Columbia College Conservative Club, and The Federalist Paper. It is problematic that these groups used Columbia funding in ways that made students feel attacked in their own space; however, the offensive sentiments expressed are not unique to these groups, nor are they new phenomena. We want the university to direct its attention to these actions, their effects, and the sentiments behind them, but we do not wish for the kind of response that simply chastises or silences these groups, and in doing so, pushes these issues of race and community under the rug. We wish for Columbia University to honestly confront the many manifestations of privilege on this campus, and their repercussions for its student body.
--Columbia University Concerned Students of Color