What with Super Tuesday and the Super Bowl parade going on yesterday, how to decide what to watch? It's enough to flummox an Ivy Leaguer! "Having two events with the word 'Super' in them is confusing," Columbia student Julie Schneyer told the Daily News. "Frankly, I'm voting for the Giants." Haha, politics is boring. We feel the same way sometimes. But then again, we're not President of one of the most vocal political activist groups at Columbia.
But Julie Schneyer is! She heads up the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification, an organization with 10-point plan to fight the school's "disruption and displacement" of West Harlem residents with petitions, protests, and, most importantly, wheatpaste. A bit earnest, maybe, but student activism is generally a good thing. Still, might help to follow politics a bit. Julie does already have a knack for one thing that politicians love to do, though: overreact to bathroom graffiti. She published this letter to her parents in the Columbia paper.
I know I am very lucky to go to Columbia University. But tonight I have to let you know what is going on inside these hallowed halls, in this liberal state, for a couple of reasons. First, because in case you're wondering "what's up" with me, this is it. I spend a good portion of my time dealing with these issues either in a personal discussion context or a formal activism context. Second, so that when you tell people I go to Columbia and they give an "impressed face," you are aware of the true nature of the community I inhabit—that you pay for me to inhabit—every day. I am not in any way pointing a finger since obviously I am the one who chose to go to school here, and I'm not saying you should stop bragging about me (that would be a futile demand I know), but rather I just need to bring these things into your (and my) consciousness.
Two weeks ago graffiti was found scrawled on the stall of a bathroom in the International Affairs Building that said, "Attention You pinko Commie Motherfuckers and Arab Towelheads: America will wake up one day and Nuke Mecca, Medina, Tehran, Baghdad, Jakarta, and all the savages in Africa. You will all be fucked! America is for White Europeans." David Horowitz, a Columbia alum and right-wing author will appear with Sean Hannity on campus in late October for "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," which will be held on college campuses all around this great nation. Horowitz was quoted as saying that our Muslim Students Association was funded by Hamas and part of the Islamo-Fascist jihad.
Last year students peacefully protesting the speech of Jim Gilchrist from the Minutemen, a racist vigilante group that patrols the Texas border for Mexican immigrants, were assaulted by Gilchrist's people after they mounted the stage to unfurl a banner saying "no person is illegal." While this was rude, it was not violent, unlike the kicks to the head that some students received. The University never once addressed this violence or attempted to protect its students' rights, but rather censured the Latino/a students and is considering inviting Gilchrist back a second time.
In 2005 over a dozen swastikas, some a foot tall, were found graffitied on the hallways in a dorm suite, along with racist and homophobic messages.
Then there is the expansion, which I know I've spoken to you all about at length—if you don't believe the plan itself is racist, believe that some of the reactions people have to it on campus are. On the campus blog someone responded to a post that said it was wrong for the University to uproot the community with "What community? Seriously, what fucking community?" This was in reference to the more than 5,000 residents, predominantly low-income people of color, that the expansion would displace.
But mostly I am e-mailing you this message because this afternoon someone hung a noose on a black professor's door.
I will always remember when I was applying to colleges and I asked what the difference really was between an "Ivy" and other less prestigious schools—mom and dad said it was "the caliber of the student."