Six Columbia University undergrads went on hunger strike Wednesday to protest the university’s expansion into Manhattanville, the lack of a resources for ethnic studies, and the administration’s response to recent hate crimes on campus.
The student won’t reveal their names but have launched a blog to publicize their cause and explain why they’ve taken such strong measures.
Part of their manifesto states:
We strike because we have inherited a world in which racist, gendered, and sexualized hierarchies dominate the way power flows. We strike because the administration consistently resists implementing structural changes that will allow us to challenge these hierarchies. We strike because the university does not recognize that the lack of space for the critical study of race through Ethnic Studies, the lack of administrative support for minority students and their concerns, the lack of engagement with the community in West Harlem, and the lack of true reform of the Core Curriculum are harmful to the intellectual life of its students. We strike because we want the administration to understand that these needs are as fundamental to students’ intellectual lives as food is to the human body.
University health officials will be checking on the hunger strikers each day, according to the Columbia Spectator. The strikers told the Spectator that they see the recent hate crimes as not isolated incidents but the byproduct of a “pervasive climate of racism and insensitivity on campus.”
The Spectator reports:
The announcement follows a string of bias incidents that have occurred on campus this semester, including the hanging of a noose on the door of a black Teacher’s College professor, the spray-painting of a swastika on a Jewish TC professor’s door, and the discovery of anti-Semitic, racist, and Islamophobic graffiti in Columbia restrooms.
“I think that the fact that all of these things happened so quickly in succession is kind of shocking to the student body at large and so it’s impossible to ignore,” Desiree Carver-Thomas, CC ’09 and a member of the coalition’s negotiation team, said. “It’s kind of forced the student body to take a long hard look at the way the University allows these things to happen.