Monday, January 5, 2015

Columbia Students Oppose Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Construction Project--Part 3

In October 2014, the Columbia Student Coalition Against Gentrification (CAGe) released a report, titled Understanding Columbia University's Expansion into West Harlem: An Activist's Guide, which indicated why many Columbia students, Barnard students and neighborhood residents in Morningside Heights, West Harlem and Manhattanville are apparently still opposed to the Columbia University Administration's Kravis Business School construction/campus expansion project in West Harlem/Manhattanville. As the report's introduction notes:

“...First, we will trace the basic outlines of Columbia’s expansion process until now, to reveal its actual history. Second, we will emphasize the fact that the struggle for the right to West Harlem is by no means decided.

“The large majority of displacements caused by Columbia’s expansion into of Manhattanville will take place between 2014 and 2030, the estimated time frame for the construction of the new campus. During this period, landlords will continue to raise rent rates for local tenants as they prepare for arrivals of better financial means. Local businesses will close because of untenable ground rents.

“Columbia has said they will fund enterprises run by ‘minorities’. But they have not said when or where, and no one living in the neighborhood has much reason to trust them.
“The police, operating in tandem with the University, will increase the scope and scale of their patrol activity, targeting young tenants of color for drug possession, larceny, and assault – crimes committed at an equal if not higher rate by Columbia students themselves. The incarcerated will struggle for many years with criminal records that restrict them from housing and job opportunities.

“All the while the turbulent changes unfolding in the area will induce feelings of alienation and disillusionment amongst the people who think of it as home. But urban policy can change.

“There is still time and space to campaign against market based housing laws, to fight for tenants’ rights, and lay the groundwork for community welfare relief. There is no reason why Columbia can’t build new classrooms without aggressively reshaping the entire neighborhood. Collaboration and compromise are possible, but only if the voices of local residents are empowered to actualize their own visions for the future…”

No comments: