Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rally Today at Noon!

Press Release from the Student Strikers

Sundial at Columbia University
College Walk, W. 116th St., between Broadway and Amsterdam

Tonight, despite the administration briefly declaring negotiations closed, the coalition of students and faculty at Columbia University involved with a hunger strike won a set of concessions from the administration regarding curricular and administrative reform. The strike will continue until administrators and student negotiators reach agreement on revisions to Columbia's plan to expand into West Harlem.

The administration has committed, subject to approval by the Task Force on Undergraduate Education, to raising fifty million dollars in order to staff a seminar format for the non-Western portion of the Core Curriculum. Currently, every other Humanities requirement in the Core is taught in capped seminar format. Administrators will also put out a call for proposals from faculty for new courses for the Core Curriculum

The administration has agreed to raise funds for the expansion of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, to the extent recommended by a review by a consultant firm. Administrators offered a blueprint for student involvement in the academic review committee for the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, which will decide the future of the Center. Finally, administrators guaranteed that there will be no disciplinary action brought against any hunger striker.

In the late afternoon, administrators issued a demand that two student hunger strikers end their eight day demonstration, or be forced on medical leave for the remainder of the semester. Administrators further threatened that if strikers did not accept a specific set of proposals offered at 7pm, the administration would walk out of negotiations.

While these threats hung in the air, at 9pm, approximately two hundred students gathered for a previously scheduled vigil. Upon hearing the administration's position, students spontaneously formed a rally and marched across campus, gathering in front of Hamilton Hall, where administrators were convened. Hamilton Hall has been the location of student sit-ins several times in the last decades. At this point, the administration resumed negotiations.

Outstanding demands of the coalition of students and faculty include a critical revision of Columbia's plan for expansion into West Harlem. A meeting is scheduled for Thursday to negotiate specific points of compromise brought forth by students.

A larger rally is scheduled for Thursday at noon, to coincide with a luncheon between administrators and major donors to the university.

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