Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights in 20th Century--Part 2

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following:

"..The Zionist movement...pushed forward with intense religious enthusiasm. Some Zionists said they did not want a political state in Palestine. Their concept of the `national home' was more humanitarian than political, but the ideal in the minds of the chief leaders seems to have been defined by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, later first President of the State of Israel, when as early as February, 1919, speaking before the Peace Conference, he explained the Jewish national home as the creation of an administration `with the hope that by Jewish immigration Palestine would ultimately become as Jewish as England is English.' At this time, 1919, the number of Jews in Palestine was some 65,000, constituting about a tenth of the population. The remaining nine-tenths, as they learned of this policy, naturally looked on it with apprehension. They consisted of some 515,000 Arab Moslems and 62,500 Christians, of whom many were Arabs.

"By 1936 the number of Jews in Palestine had increased to nearly 400,000, amounting to somewhat more than a quarter of the total population. The Palestinian Arabs inevitably increased their protests and efforts to stem this tide which they feared was going to overwhelm them,--as it soon did.

"The situation seemed to me to be drifting towards a disastrous explosion. Could not the free nations of the world somehow meet their humanitarian duty to the Jews without depriving the Palestinian Arabs of their native land, thereby setting the Middle East aflame and antagonizing the rest of the Moslem world? From my interest in the Middle East, my vision of it as a great whole, and from my concern for the Jews, whom I had come to know so well in my own city of New York, I felt this great problem keenly; all the more because the Zionists project was being financed by hundreds of millions of American dollars. Thus stood the situation and my own feeling when we were plunged into the chaos of World War II..."

(end of part 2)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 1

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following:

"...In October 1895...I entered Barnard College...On February 1, 1911, I took Office as Dean...As I look back over my 36 and a half years as Dean, it seems to me that the most thoroughly pleasant part of the job was my association with the Barnard undergraduates...

"....The Jews were of course an important element in the make-up of our student body. Once in a printed statement early in my Deanship I alluded to them as a nationality or race, mentioning them along with the English, the French, the Russians, and so on. Mrs. Annie Nathan Meyer, our very zealous Trustee and herself a Jew, insisted that I recall this document and have it corrected, since the Jews were not a race or nationality but a religion. This I did...Several of the outstanding personalities among the original group of Trustees who had started the College I came to know intimately over many years. One was Mrs. Annie Nathan Meyer...Mrs. Meyer and her husband, Dr. Alfred Meyer, signed the lease for the house the College was to occupy, and...the infant Barnard started courageously on its way...

"In the difficult and complex world of the Middle East there was now developing in Palestine, land of the Holy Places of three great religions, a movement which was to plunge much of the region into war, sow long-lasting hatred, and make the Arabs consider America not the best liked and trusted of the nations of the West, as she had been, but the most disliked and distrusted as she is today.

"The movement was International Zionism, the plan to convert Palestine into a `homeland'' for the Jews. The Zionists wished to bring back the Jews to the country which, they believed, their God had given them and which their forefathers had held for a time two thousand years ago.

"The small land of Palestine, about the size of our state of Vermont, had been inhabited for over a thousand years by Arabs, who naturally looked forward, when the British mandate should expire, to becoming an independent state, as had Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, their brother Arab nations...The Zionist movement, however, had been growing in strength, and was immensely stimulated by Hitler's terrible persecutions of the Jews in Germany and the need of finding asylum for some hundreds of thousands of survivors...

"...Naturally...like all decent Americans, when Hitler perpetrated his persecutions and massacres, I felt a wave of horror sweep over me.

"I can vividly remember that deep emotion. These appalling outrages seemed so terrible as to be unbelievable...

"Partly to meet the need of providing some sanctuary for thousands of Jewish refugees, and building on the sympathy aroused in other countries by these persecutions, the Zionist movement now rose quickly to much greater strength. It had first received important international recognition when in 1917 the British Government approved the famous Balfour Declaration, which stated, `His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.' Subsequently the League of Nations assigned Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine to carry out their Declaration,--this very ambiguous statement of which only the first half is generally quoted.

"What right had Great Britain, asked the Arabs as the years went on, or indeed the League of Nations, to give away any part of Paelstine without the consent of the inhabitants who had lived there and tilled the soil for over a thousand years? What right had they to say that foreigners might come to the ancient land and there establish a `national home,' whatever that may mean? Surely this was contrary to all the principles of democracy and self-determination..."
(end of part 1) 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Columbia's Baker Athletic Complex Land: Donated By Exploiter of Black Convict Labor?

As Cara Maines reported in a Feb. 7, 2017 Columbia Daily Spectator article, research done by  Columbia University Professor of History Eric Foner and his students, as part of the Columbia University and Slavery Project, “found that most of the early presidents and trustees owned slaves, some donors profited from slave trade in the West Indies, and most students came from slave-owning families;” and “at least one student, the stepson of George Washington, brought a slave to what was then King's College.”

But what perhaps should also be mentioned is that the 26 acres of Upper Manhattan land upon which Columbia University’s Baker Athletics Complex stands was purchased in 1921 by a U.S. Steel Corporation director and major stockholder named George F. Baker--whose firm’s Tennessee Coal and Iron [TCI] subsidiary apparently profited in Alabama from the exploitation of forced African-American convict labor in the early 20th century. As labor and human rights lawyer Daniel Kovalik noted in a July 4, 2008 Pittsburgh Post- Gazette article:
“What came to many of us as a revelation this year, presented by the Wall Street Journal's Douglas A. Blackmon in his book, Slavery by Another Name, is that the enslavement of tens of thousands of black Americans in the South did not end in 1865…As Mr. Blackmon explains..., southern political and industrial leaders…began to arrest blacks en masse on baseless charges, including the overly broad `"crime’ of vagrancy (i.e., standing around unoccupied), `offensive conduct,’ talking to white women or any other trumped-up offense…

“The targeted black citizen was then hauled before a judge or justice of the peace, pressured by implied threats of violence into confessing to a crime, and fined for both the crime and the "costs" incurred by the arresting officer, the judge and witnesses. The accused was then offered to an industrialist or farmer who offered to pay the exorbitant fines and costs in return for the accused signing a contract of indentured servitude…One of the largest users of forced labor was Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel, which purchased a coal mine -- indeed, a slave mine -- from the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co. at the beginning of the 20th century. U.S. Steel signed a lease with the state of Alabama to acquire hundreds of prisoners, almost all black and almost all arrested on absurd charges, who it put to work in its Alabama mine No. 12. The many laborers who died during their periods of servitude either were buried in unmarked graves or burned inside the mines.

“As Mr. Blackmon notes in his book, U.S. Steel, unlike some companies that had used prison/slave labor during the late 19th and early 20th century, has never…paid compensation to the families of victims….”

According to an Apr. 19, 2012 TomDispatch.com article by Steve Fraser and Joshua Freeman, “convicts were leased to…Tennessee Coal and Iron (TC&I), a major producer across the South, especially in the booming region around Birmingham, Alabama, “more than a quarter of the coal coming out of Birmingham’s pits was then mined by prisoners” and “by the turn of the century, TC&I had been folded into J.P. Morgan’s United States Steel complex, which also relied heavily on prison laborers.”
Owning $5,965,000 (equivalent to around $83,245,000 in 2017 dollars) of U.S. Steel stock in the early 1920’s, George F. Baker was the largest individual owner of stock in TC&I’s parent company, according to a May 4, 1924 Time magazine article. And, coincidentally, as Columbia University’s website notes, “the tract of land on which the Baker Athletics Complex stands was purchased for the University on December 30, 1921 by financier George F. Baker” as a $700,000 (equivalent to around $8,711,000 in 2017 dollars gift); and “the 26-acre area was dedicated in April, 1922 and hosted spring football practice that same year.”

A long-time president of the First National Bank of New York (which eventually merged with Citicorp’s Citibank in 1955), Baker was “closely associated with” the late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. robber-baron, monopolist and Wall Street banker J.P. Morgan “in his manifold enterprises,” according to Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais’s 1955 book, Labor’s Untold Story. The same book also noted that “Morgan and associates organized super-trusts in steel (U.S. Steel), shipping (International Mercantile Marine), and agricultural machinery (International Harvester);” and it also “had its hands in other fields—the railroads (where…some 30,000 miles of railway were controlled), anthracite coal (where from two-thirds to three-quarters of the entire shipment was in Morgan hands).” In addition, other Morgan monopolies included electrical machinery (General Electric), communications (AT &T, Western Union), traction companies (IRT in New York, Hudson & Manhattan), and insurance (Equitable Life).” 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Columbia University Apartheid Divest's February 27, 2017 Statement

In a February 27, 2017 column that that was originally posted on the Columbia Daily Spectator news site, the Columbia and Barnard student group that is campaigning for an end to the Columbia University administration's policy of owning stock in U.S.-based transnational corporations that profit from their investments in an Israeli economy whose government continues to violate Palestinian human rights and democratic national self-determination rights--Columbia University Apartheid Divest--stated the following:

“When students launched the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network (BCSN) last year, they sought to put into practice principles of solidarity between movements and work against forms of oppression using an intersectional framework. The guiding principle of this coalition was that all forms of oppression operate in interrelated ways and thus must be fought together.

“Although BCSN sought to foster solidarity among campus activists, its inclusion of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) incurred virulent criticism as some argued that the pro-Palestinian groups created a hostile environment for students who support Israel. We, members of Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), were left asking: why should recognition of intersectionality exclude Palestinians? How could one, in good conscience, ignore racism, sexual violence, environmental racism, and colonialism in the context of Israel/Palestine?

“When students are made aware of this double standard, they will often say that they simply don’t know enough to take a stance. This widespread belief—that entitlement to an opinion requires exhaustive knowledge of the Israeli occupation of Palestine—keeps many students out of the conversations we in CUAD try to encourage on campus. Moreover, the misleading and divisive narrative of “us vs. them” that attends dominant discourses surrounding Israel/Palestine activism intimidates students and activists with the implied accusation that any engagement at all amounts to full endorsement of one side or the other.

“Either afraid of negotiating or believing themselves unable to negotiate these polarizing stances, students retreat to a position of presumed “neutrality,” a non-stance amounting to little more than tacit support for the status quo: occupation, dispossession, and apartheid. “Neutral” silence has become a powerful tool wielded by Zionists in their effort to bolster the hegemony of Israeli apartheid and dissuade dissenting voices. From hard-right Zionist groups such as AIPAC to student Hillel chapters, the discourse about Israel/Palestine at Columbia is in need of dramatic recalibration.

“We put on events for Israeli Apartheid Week to create a space for learning and growing, not hostility. Activism is a process, one that is shared between all groups organizing against oppression and one that asks for the participation—at whatever capacity—of those who might not call themselves “activists.” Without engaged people seeking new information, dialogue on campus becomes a repetitive cycle of attack between the “two sides.”

“As part of our work this Israeli Apartheid Week, CUAD will present a resolution to CCSC calling for divestment from companies that participate in Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the government’s continued human rights abuses. If 10 percent of the CC student body signs our petition supporting the resolution, CCSC will be obligated to put the resolution to a vote for the entire Columbia College student body.

“The resolution seeks to end our University’s support for corporations that engage in and profit from human rights violations in Israel/Palestine. Education and dialogue during Israeli Apartheid week are essential to the resolution vote. This is our way of honoring the Palestinian call to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). BDS, with its three simple demands, is an effective tactic for pressuring the Israeli government into abiding by international law. It is a tangible way to empower everyone, from consumer to politician, to end apartheid.

“There is a new administration in Washington, and a staunch supporter of illegal settlement building has been nominated to be the new US Ambassador to Israel. Now more than ever it is incumbent upon us to fight for institutional support in the struggle to end the well-documented violations of human rights in Palestine. To do so means both to learn and to act simultaneously. We hope Israeli Apartheid Week will serve this purpose.

“This week, featuring events every night, and our mock Apartheid wall on Low Plaza every day, is an essential moment in our movement and an excellent opportunity for students to learn about Israel/Palestine

“The United States has witnessed the consolidation of power by some of the country’s most overtly corporate, racist, and authoritarian forces in the past few months. The supposedly neutral stance on Israel/Palestine may have felt comfortable for people in the past, but it now becomes impossible to uphold if we are at all opposed to what is happening in the United States—the Muslim ban, the Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality and the reinstatement of Jim Crow-era voting laws in some states.

“It has been heartening to see so many in the United States come together—in the streets, at town hall meetings, on campuses—to reaffim our basic principles of equal protection under the law. Right here in Morningside Heights, students, faculty, staff, and administrators have recommitted to the principles of sanctuary. In this fraught moment, it is especially important that we all reaffirm our insistence that basic human rights are not limited by zip code, religion, or national identity, but that they are fundamental rights for all individuals. This is what we, as CUAD members, fight for this week and every week.

“Columbia University Apartheid Divest is a coalition between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).”

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Columbia University Apartheid Divest Student Group's April 28, 2016 Letter To Columbia President Bollinger

In an April 28, 2016 letter to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, the Columbia and Barnard student group that is campaigning for an end to the Columbia University administration's policy of owning stock in U.S.-based transnational corporations that profit from their investments in an Israeli economy whose government continues to violate Palestinian human rights and democratic national self-determination rights--Columbia University Apartheid Divest--stated the following:

"April 28, 2016

"To the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing and President Bollinger,

"In 1784, the Columbia community renamed King’s College in order to speak to the independence of the nascent U.S. American nation-state. Columbia University emerges from a historical moment that, to this day, continues to structure and inform our relations to this land and its original peoples, the Lenape Nation. Leading up to that moment and to this day, Columbia University has been invested in the practices of settler-colonial occupation.

"We are students representing Columbia University Apartheid Divest, a campaign launched by Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine and Barnard/Columbia Jewish Voice for Peace. We call on the University to divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from the State of Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights through its ongoing system of settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid. This campaign directly responds to a choice made by Palestinian civil society to call for international solidarity.

"Our demands carry the voices of over a thousand community members, including 601 undergraduate students, 190 graduate students, 103 alumni, 75 faculty, and 12 staff members, who have attached their name to our petition, as well as the expressed endorsement of the following groups representing a diversity of Columbia community members: Barnard-Columbia Socialists, Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, Columbia Muslim Students Association, Columbia Queer Alliance, Columbia University Black Students’ Organization, Columbia University Turath, Divest Barnard from Fossil Fuels, GendeRevolution, No Red Tape, and Student-Worker Solidarity.

"We are writing to you, knowing of and trusting in President Bollinger's stated vision of Columbia as a "Global University." In order to uphold a commitment to this vision, the trustees and administration must fulfill their role not only by accepting students from all over the world, but also by taking a stand against regimes that violate basic human rights and the structures by which they are supported. This call extends to Columbia recognizing its past and present role as a colonial institution, one that was built through the practice of slaveryand one that continues in a city founded on broken treaties, and its present complicity in gentrification and displacement through its rapid expansion into Manhattanvile. Given Columbia’s recent divestment from the US private prison system, we are encouraged by the precedent our University community has set by denouncing racial profiling and disproportionate standards of prosecution.

"Our institution should not be considered separate from those affected by and complicit in Israeli human rights violations; impacted communities include students, academics, people of color, indigenous people, religious and gender minorities, refugees, Israelis, and Palestinians both in Palestine and its diaspora. Columbia's investment in corporations that profit from Israeli apartheid has communicated to us that the fundamental dignity and worth of these communities is not the priority of this university.

"One such company in which the University is directly invested is Doosan Infracore co. Ltd., whose products include construction equipment used to build at least one illegal settlement in the West Bank, the Leshem settlement. Doosan also owns the Bobcat Company, whose machinery was used in the construction of the apartheid wall and multiple security checkpoints along the wall. Other University investments show us that divestment from human rights violations is not only moral, but can also be economically successful. The University is currently directly invested in CRH PLC, a corporation which chose to divest from Israel in 2015. CRH has reported a strong post-divestment growth in profit, highlighting the feasibility of making socially responsible and still profitable investment decisions.

"The Advisory Committee's annual reports indicate a continued commitment to ensure that the University's investments meet specific social and moral standards. Your audits of these investments with respect to the private prison industry are a commendable instance of this commitment. We believe that this commitment also requires consideration of the human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, abuses associated with and perpetrated by companies in which we may be invested.
"In light of this, faculty members across various departments presented a proposal in 2002 calling for an end to our investment in all firms that supplied Israel's military with arms and military hardware. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff all agreed to attach their name to the 2002 proposal, hoping that our institution would end their complicity in Israel's use of asymmetrical and excessive violence against Palestinian civilians. In the 14 years since this proposal was rejected, Israel has ramped up its violence towards these civilians and its illegal settlement practices to levels unimaginable, even in 2002. We thus call upon you now to not only hold our university to a higher moral standard, but to consider Israel's apartheid system in all its forms, including those that do not involve the direct use of the State's military apparatus, but nonetheless severely violate the rights of Palestinians and the prescriptions of international law.

"In asking for divestment, we join a growing international movement that has heeded the Palestinian call for solidarity. Already, the Presbyterian Church of the United States has divested from Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and Caterpillar. The United Methodist Church and the World Council of Churches have followed suit in divesting from other companies complicit in Israeli apartheid. Student bodies in the University of California system (Berkeley, Irvine, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles), Loyola University, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of South Florida, and Stanford University have supported divestment. Students and workers at neighboring institutions such as City University of New York and New York University have voted to support divestment. In this context, we demand:

"1.    More transparency regarding Columbia’s investments. Columbia University has failed to make available and accessible the 10% of its investments (direct holdings) to which the public is entitled knowledge. Additionally, information about the region and sector of the full endowment, and remaining 90% (indirect holdings), should be made available to all members of our community in the spirit of transparency and mutual accountability to which the University should be held pursuant and for which the ACSRI was created.

"2.    That research be done on all holdings (direct and indirect) in order to determine if they are complicit in Israeli practices that are illegal under international law. Furthermore, we request the public availability of this research, in pursuit of a socially responsible commitment to transparency and neutrality.

"3.    That the University immediately divest from such companies and make a public statement confirming divestment. Columbia must adopt a negative screen for these companies, to confirm that Columbia will not invest in these companies until they cease their operations in and profits from Israeli apartheid, or until the State of Israel dismantles its apartheid wall and occupation, promotes the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and allows Palestinian refugees to return as demanded by the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions solidarity movement in which our campaign is embedded.

"We would like to meet with President Bollinger and other heads of the administration in order to discuss the double standard posed by the dissonance between Columbia's ideals and its current investment in Israeli settler-colonialism. Columbia University Apartheid Divest looks forward to engaging with your Advisory Committee in person and commencing this process.

"Columbia University Apartheid Divest"

Monday, April 25, 2016

`How Harvard Rules' lyrics

There's a filthy rich school in Cambridge
And across the Charles River, too
It got rich by evading taxes
And that's How Harvard Rules.

Enron ripped off consumers and engaged in accounting fraud
While a top Enron executive sat on Harvard's board
A policy group at Harvard got big money from Enron
To produce biased research that backed no regulation
And before Enron went bankrupt and its executives were sent to jail
Enron paid Harvard profs to say "Enron is doing well." (chorus)

Harvard's Center for Risk Analysis gets sixty percent of its funds
From chemical, drug and oil firms like Monsanto, Lilly and Exxon
Dioxin, driver cell phones and second-hand smoke, Harvard claimed it "posed no risk"
Since Dioxin producers, AT & T and Phillip Morris also gave Harvard gifts. (chorus)

Harvard claims to be "non-profit" yet it owns billions in corporate stock
And hundreds of acres of real estate and a New Zealand lumber forest
Harvard Law and Harvard Business School are money-making machines
And Harvard's money managers get $20 million dollars annually. (chorus)

If you're a janitor at Harvard, you don't get a living wage
And they'll try to bust your union if you're a workers who shows some rage
Yet Harvard Corporation is run by billionaires
And if you didn't go to prep school, they prefer you don't study there
Excluded by its admissions office: 90 percent of applicants
Yet only Harvard graduates control the Supreme Court. (chorus)

The Harvard Corporation it meets so secretly
With all minutes kept secret except from the seven trustees
It secretly picks a president who won't challenge corporate greed
So Microsoft gives millions for a new engineering building
Harvard secretly bought up real estate in Boston's Allston neighborhood
And drove out working-class tenants so Harvard's campus can expand. (chorus)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Columbia and Barnard Students Occupy Low Library: Demand Columbia U. Divest Itself Of Fossil Fuel Corporation Investments

In an April 15, 2016 opinion piece  that appeared in Columbia Daily Spectator, two of the students participating in the Spring 2016 sit-in protest inside Columbia University's Low Library administration building--Ricardo De Luca, E Tuma and Lucas Zeppetello--explained why their student climate action group decided to peacefully occupy Low Library:

"To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest,' Mahatma Gandhi wrote. That is one of the reasons members of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice and Divest Barnard are currently engaged in a peaceful sit-in in front of President Bollinger’s office. Members of the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network rallied in tandem on Low Plaza this past Thursday. As a result, the subject of divestment from fossil fuel companies has catapulted to the forefront of Columbia’s campus consciousness.
"After four years of campaigning and engaging with administrative channels, we are demanding that President Bollinger immediately recommend divestment from the Carbon Underground 200 list of fossil fuel companies to the board of trustees.
"We do not know what the outcome of our protest will be, if and how students will be arrested, and whether or not our demands will be met before we are removed. We were well aware of these risks when we planned and initiated this action. In the end, President Bollinger will either commit to recommending divestment and stand with us, or refuse and show his de facto support of the fossil fuel industry’s policy of profit over people. In the coming days, we will see which side President Bollinger is on.
"Civil disobedience is the act of deliberately refusing to comply with certain rules as a form of peaceful protest against the authorities that created them. While our actions may be characterized as `disruptive,' the disruption caused by our sit-in is nothing compared to the disruption already being caused by climate change. As young people, we have an obligation to denounce an industry with a business plan reliant upon destroying our planet and communities.
"When Columbia divests, it will join hundreds of institutions with over $3 trillion in assets under management that have divested since 2012. Although Yale announced partial divestment on Tuesday, we would be the first Ivy League University to fully divest from the Carbon Underground 200 and lead the way for other educational institutions. Divesting from coal alone is not sufficient: We must end our use of this outdated technology to stop climate change.
"The decision to sit in was not taken lightly. It is the culmination of more than three years of campaigning, including raising awareness on campus and engaging in talks with the University administration. We have gathered thousands of student and alumni petition signatures and hundreds of faculty signatures; garnered a vote in favor of divestment in the first ever Columbia College referendum; had exasperating meetings with the Advisory Commission on Socially Responsible Investing; and even met with President Bollinger and members of the board of trustees themselves—a relatively unprecedented phenomenon for a student group—all to no avail.
"Opposition to our demand has centered on the incorrect claim that divesting could threaten to drain the University's financial and human resources. President Bollinger has told members of CDCJ that divestment will not hurt the endowment and that he believes climate change is an important issue, but now it is time to act. When decision-makers lack courage, we must summon our own, take action, and fight for what we believe is right.
"By occupying Low Library, we are stating that this space also belongs to us, the students, and that our concerns and our future should always be at the center of the University’s decision-making processes, and not a marginal inconvenience. We are dissolving the distance between us and President Bollinger, created by so many levels of bureaucracy and ritual. Only a simple truth remains: President Bollinger must use his power to stand against an existential threat long confirmed by the scientific community.
"Climate change is not a problem of technology or of economics; it is a problem of society and culture. The belief in unlimited resources and unrestricted growth is imbued deep in our financial systems. The far-reaching nature of this catastrophe, both in time and space, make causal links and ethical responsibilities hard to discern. However, fossil fuel companies commit clear injustices, and it is unjustifiable for us, as members of such a privileged and influential institution, to benefit from investment in them.
"When those who are meant to lead us have failed and ignored our demands, the responsibility falls on each of us to confront the issue at hand. When the University is compliant with an industry that kills activists, disseminates misinformation, and damages the global climate for private profit, students cannot remain inactive and accept things as they are. In this sit-in, we confront President Bollinger’s neglect.
"The mood in Low right now is one of real courage. We do not know what consequences we will face for choosing to remain in Low Library until President Bollinger recommends full divestment to the board of trustees. To be sure, we are concerned for our own academic, disciplinary, and police records. But those fears pale in comparison to the resolve we have to fight for what we know is right, and to remain focused on getting Columbia’s money completely out of the fossil fuel industry."