Here are just a few of the previous struggles thousands have fought to democratize Columbia and stop the forced displacement of Harlemites:

June 10, 2006 — Upper Manhattan Rally for Low-Income Housing and Against Columbia

The Coalition to Preserve Community joined with Project Remain / Nos Quedamos on June 10, 2006 to co-sponsor a rally to preserve and expand low-income housing in Upper Manhattan, and to protest the Columbia expansion plan and the actions of other developers seeking to displace our uptown communities. Thousands of residents from Harlem, Manhattanville, Washington Heights, and Inwood, marched from 135th street and Broadway—at the plaza of 3333 Broadway, where thousands are at imminent risk of displacement—more than 65 blocks north to Dyckman Street.

News coverage:

Upper Manhattan Residents March For Affordable Housing . New York 1. June 10, 2006.
“Thousands of marchers from Washington Heights, Harlem and Inwood joined community leaders in a protest against Columbia University’s plans to expand into the neighborhood. They say Columbia’s presence will lead to displaced residents and higher rent.” read the whole article

Protest Targets Landlord In Low-Income EvictsNew York Daily News, June 11, 2006

Upper Manhattan Takes Affordable Housing Issue to the StreetsColumbia Spectator. June 12, 2006.

April 27, 2006 — Campus Protest: Stop Hurricane Columbia!

The Coalition to Preserve Community organized a rally, press conference, and speak-out, in support of the community’s 197-a plan and against Columbia’s eviction plan for Manhattanville, on April 27, 2006. The rally began at the gates of Columbia University’s main campus and moved to the steps of the campus’s administrative offices. Residents, business owners, and workers facing eviction were joined by tenants in surrounding communities and Columbia students in denouncing Columbia’s increasingly aggressive tactics in trying to remove residents and business owners in the expansion zone who did not want to sell out to the university. In the weeks prior to the protest, it had been revealed that Columbia was attempting to secretly broker a deal with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to relocate the residential tenants in the neighborhood, even though these tenants are on track to becoming homeowners and have no desire to move. Also in the weeks prior, the University had attempted to use the existence of building violations on property that it recently acquired in the expansion zone as a means of evicting existing businesses.

News coverage:

CPC Storms Steps
Columbia Spectator. April 28, 2006.

November 15, 2005 — Community Members Unanimously Denounce Columbia Proposal At Public Hearing

Over 80 community members spoke out against Columbia University’s expansion plans at the City Planning Commission’s public hearing on the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on November 15, 2005. Common themes from a diverse group of residents, workers, building owners, commercial renters, students, not-for- profit community groups, even professors, included virtually unamimous condemnation of the use of eminent domain, outrage at both displacement in the surrounding communities and the possibility that biotech lab #3’s could be located in West Harlem’s residential neighborhoods, and an overwhelming sentiment that Columbia should respect the community’s 197A development plan which would allow for the community to be shared, not bulldozed. Other specific and general concerns were raised in over six hours of testimony with references to Columbia’s past broken promises and prior expansions – from the attempted takeover of Morningside Park property in 1968 to its ongoing policy of deregulating affordable apartments and broken employment deals made with the community. Dozens more submitted written testimony.

For Columbia to be allowed to expand as it wishes, the university needs the City Council and the Mayor to approve both the development plan, and a re-zoning of Manhattanville. This public hearing marked the beginning stage of the process Columbia must undergo to get approval for its expansion plans.

At the end of six and a half hours of testimony about Columbia’s proposal, Community Board 9 chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc pointed out to the City Planning Commission officials that not a single person who spoke was in favor of the developmen, an unprecedented consensus for a development of such size.

The Coalition to Preserve Community followed up by submitting a 46 page document in response to Columbia’s DEIS scoping document, which you can download or view here (.pdf format only): Coalition to Preserve Community’s official response to Columbia’s DEIS (.pdf)

News coverage:

Columbia’s Plan to Expand Campus Raises Neighbors’ IreThe New York Sun. November 16, 2005.

West Harlem Residents Voice Opposition To Columbia Expansion PlanNew York 1. November 16, 2005.

CU Expansion Foes Go On the RecordColumbia Spectator. November 16, 2005

April 27, 2005 — ‘Bollinger’s Tent City’ Protest at Columbia University Highlights Evictions & Displacement in Columbia’s Expansion Plan

On April 27, 2005, the Coalition to Preserve Community joined with Columbia’s Student Coalition on Expansion & Gentrification to erect a ‘tent-city’ on the campus of Columbia University, protesting the evictions, rent-increases, and displacement that would occur as a result of Columbia’s proposed expansion. The ‘tent-city’ was nicknamed “Bollingerville”,  a reference to Columbia University’s President Lee Bollinger, who was hired by the Columbia trustees to push through the $7.6 expansion proposal in West Harlem. Dozens of community residents and business owners who are facing eviction, or who live in the surrounding communities, were joined by Columbia students and professors at a speak-out against the expansion.

At the time of the demonstration, it had just been revealed that Columbia had paid $300,000 to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to fund a study on ‘blight’ conditions in Manhattanville (see: CU Letter on Expansion Incites Protest Columbia Spectator. April 21, 2005). Consequently, many speakers emphasized how vibrant and essential the neighborhood was, and how Manhattanville has dramatic potential to expand organically under the concepts of the 197A community plan. A faculty letter opposing Columbia’s all or nothing tactics to expand was unveiled at the tent-city protest. (The letter has been signed by over 50 members of Columbia faculty. You can read the letter at the following link: Columbia University Faculty Open Letter To Lee Bollinger.)

Columbia students have been working with community members for three years and their efforts to bring the alternative 197A plan development perspective to their fellow students and faculty members has been an important step to halt Bollinger’s no compromise, bring in the bulldozer, approach toward development in West Harlem. Bollinger’s recent announcement of a $4 plus billion dollar fundraising drive targeting alumni  (made in late September of 2006) makes the need for cooperation between students and community members even more important. The message that alumni dollars should not be used for the expansion plans as proposed is one that needs to be heard throughout the university community and beyond.

News coverage:

Students ‘Camp’ to Protest ExpansionColumbia Spectator. April 28, 2005.


April 1985, Blockade of Hamilton to Force Columbia Admins to Actually Comply with USenate Decision 2 Years Prior to Divest from Apartheid

ON APRIL 4, when an anti-apartheid rally at Columbia University turned into a blockade of Hamilton Hall, the main undergraduate classroom and administration building, no one expected it to last more than 24 hours.

But it did last longer–much longer–and became a major headache for the university and a source of inspiration for other protests across the country.

Ever since Soweto, American students have condemned their universities’ support for the apartheid system and have demanded divestment from corporations that do business in South Africa. As the repression of South African Blacks becomes increasingly brutal, the claims of investors and businesses that a by-product of their involvement in the region is to improve conditions there become less and less credible.

In March 1983, the Columbia University Senate voted unanimously in favor of full divestment. The trustees ignored the resolution and continued business as usual.

The article continues: http://socialistworker.org/2011/06/17/blockade-against-apartheid

Protesters rally outside occupied Hamilton Hall

May 1968, Student Strikes

Don’t forget that one of the main struggles that students and community were fighting in 1968 was to stop Columbia Management from constructing a segregated gym on public property. Racism and privatizing public property? No way that could be happening now, right? … A Newsreel documentary film of the 1968 struggles


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