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‘Mobilized African Diaspora’ gives Columbia U. 48 hrs. to respond to race-based demands

A group of ten black students “tired and frustrated with [Columbia] University” has given campus officials 48 hours to acknowledge receipt of its demands regarding Columbia’s “anti-blackness.”

The “Mobilized African Diaspora” also wants Columbia to commit to a meeting with the group within two weeks.

According to the Columbia Daily Spectator, MAD spent the summer “organizing a student response” to the “murders” of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd “and many other Black individuals at the hands of law enforcement officers.”

(“Murders” is in quotes because, like many other student newspapers, the Spectator apparently is unfamiliar with the term’s definition. MAD’s spokesman even uses Michael Brown as an example of past police misdeeds, even though the officer who shot and killed him was cleared several times of wrongdoing, including by Barack Obama’s Justice Department.)

In its list of demands, MAD contends Columbia has a “deep history of anti-Blackness” and in addition to “systemically failing Black folx on campus,” the university has “destroyed much” of West Harlem.

As part of reparations for that neighborhood (and more), MAD demands:

— a commitment of 50% of Columbia’s Approved Vendors List to local black-owned businesses,

— assurance that 50% of retail space within the Manhattanville General Project Area is used by local black-owned businesses,

— annual donations of $500K to West Harlem’s Columbia Secondary School with “annual endowment donations of 1 million for a period of 10 years,”

— a deposit of $1,000,000 “in various local minority-owned banks and credit unions in the greater Harlem area,”

— Columbia end all support for the New York Police Department,

— Columbia commit to an “immediate hiring freeze [and] a 50% budget reduction” in its Public Safety Department,

— a reinvestment of “Public Safety’s multimillion dollar budget into systems of support that are independent of policing and center the disproportionate violence targeting women, queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color,”

— creation of a “1-year Community Safety Task Force” comprised of at least 50% Columbia students (half of whom must be “BIPOC-identifying”), 25% Columbia faculty, and 25% Harlem community members,

— Columbia “ban-the-box” from all applications because continuing its use “reinforces the dehumanization of Black people by the carceral state before they even step foot on campus.”

Regarding Harlem, a MAD spokesperson noted that when Columbia students move off-campus, they need to “understand the historical context of the space they take up.

“Whether or not Columbia agrees to these demands, we’ll be working on institutionalizing some type of radical introduction to Columbia,” the spox said. “You shouldn’t be able to graduate from this university without knowing the history of West Harlem, without knowing Columbia’s land acquisition practices, and where you lie in the history of this plot of land.”

MAD, along with other student groups, made similar demands five years ago.

Read the Spectator article and full demand letter.

MORE: MAD calls Jefferson statue “symbol of violence against black and brown bodies”

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 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.