Don't Discipline Students for Protesting White Supremacy

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We, students of Columbia University, firmly oppose the disciplinary action (including possible expulsion) threatened against students who protested white supremacist speaker Tommy Robinson on Tuesday, October 10th.

From antiwar sit-ins to demonstrations against South African apartheid, student protest has played a crucial role in responding to injustice, both on campus and in the world at large. By attempting to silence protestors while providing space and funds for hate speech at Columbia, Suzanne Goldberg and other University administrators are demonstrating complicity with violent ideologues whose claims continue to actively harm historically marginalized students.

In an email sent before the protests, Suzanne Goldberg wrote that “it is foundational to Columbia’s learning and teaching missions that we allow for the contestation of ideas, as President Bollinger has often made clear.” If EVP Goldberg and President Bollinger truly believed in open dialogue and the “contestation of ideas,” they would not be threatening student protestors with disciplinary action.

Educational dialogue does not only take place in classrooms and lecture halls. By having the courage to challenge the widespread acceptance of white supremacy and envision a more just and inclusive campus, the student protesters were providing a model of informed political engagement to us all.

Students should not be punished for reminding the campus community of the moral principles that the Columbia administration failed to uphold.



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