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‘Hundreds’ of Columbia faculty to go on strike if police not removed from campus

Allege school officials have ‘militarized’ campus, ‘brutally punished’ student protesters

First it was Columbia University students — now “hundreds” of the school’s faculty and staff are planning to go on strike unless officers from the New York Police Department vacate the campus.

The strike will be limited, however; the Columbia Spectator reports the potential strikers still will “do work that directly serves students.”

This means professors won’t “withhold grades, recommendation letters, or other ‘student-serving’ work.”

Those planning to strike said in a Friday press release that the NYPD “has created an unsafe work environment,” most especially for members of minority communities “who are disproportionately profiled by police.”

The statement accused Columbia officials of an “arbitrary use of force” which resulted in the “brutal punishment” of student protesters.

Professor Jack Halberstram, whose faculty page notes he researches queer theory, feminist theory, and gender & sexuality studies, accused President Minouche Shafik and the board of trustees of “wreaking havoc on campus.”

Rebecca Jordan-Young (pictured), whose faculty bio says she’s an “interdisciplinary feminist scientist and science studies scholar whose work explores the reciprocal relations between science and the social hierarchies of gender, sexuality, class, and race,” claimed Shafik and other campus officials have “militarized” Columbia.

MORE: Custodians’ union to sue Columbia, says didn’t protect staff from ‘bratty,’ ‘privileged’ protesters

A headshot of Professor Rebecca Jordan-Young“The disciplinary process for student protesters resembles that of a military junta,” Jordan-Young said. “All existing rules have been thrown out, there’s no due process, and discipline operates on the assumption of guilty until proven innocent.”

Art History Professor Alexander Alberro said Columbia’s behavior has been “reckless” and “cruel,” and accused officials of “ripp[ing] apart the fabric of a liberal arts education” for many students.

From the story:

In response to the first wave of arrests on April 18, Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine at Columbia, Barnard, and Teachers College announced an academic boycott of all University events, including Commencement.

FSJP-CBT’s boycott demanded that the University halt disciplinary proceedings against students, comply with Columbia University Apartheid Divest’s divestment proposal, remove NYPD from campus, and unsuspend Columbia’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

“The police assault on our campus relied on a false narrative that our students are dangerous, violent, and hateful. This not only slanders our students and misrepresents the encamped students’ explicit rejection of bigotry against anyone, but it distracts the substance of their statements,” Jordan-Young said at the press conference. “We are proud of our students for speaking out and holding our university and our nation to account for funding this relentless attack on the people of Gaza.”

Considering Jordan-Young’s comments about due process, she and other panelists had challenged exactly that at a Columbia panel discussion six years ago regarding now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford.

When a student alleged the U.S. legal standard of “innocent until proven guilty” does not “allow alleged victims of sexual assault ‘to be heard,’” Jordan-Young agreed and said Blasey-Ford had been “unfairly subjected to a legalistic framework.”

MORE: ‘Unable to focus and highly emotional’: Columbia Law students want exams canceled due to police crackdown

IMAGES: Sandra Matic/Shutterstock.com; Columbia U.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.