April 21, 2016
Contact: Daniela Lapidous, 408-505-8010, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY — On Thursday, students from Columbia University Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ) cross the one-week mark since beginning their sit-in in Low Library on Thursday, April 14. The Office of the President, Lee C. Bollinger, continues to refuse to meet with the students while they continue their sit-in, despite a swell of support and plans to organize a “sleep-out” on Low Plaza in solidarity with the six students remaining inside.
Over one hundred students are expected to attend the show of solidarity on Thursday night. Students will set up tents and sleeping materials and use the evening and night to engage in reflection about the call to divest from the fossil fuel industry and the moral power of civil disobedience.
While students have been threatened with suspension by the administration, the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network has launched a petition to call for Professor Suzanne Goldberg to step down from her position as Rules Administrator – citing her inability to be an impartial investigator of violations of the rules given her multiple other titles in the university.
“We cannot have someone who has demonstrated her biases about the kinds of activism in which students choose to participate pretend to act as an impartial judge during the disciplinary process,” wrote Karim Nader, Columbia College junior and chair of the Student Governing Board in an op-ed calling for Goldberg’s resignation from the position.
A faculty letter of support calling for President Bollinger to meet with the students immediately and forgo harsh punishments for the protestors amassed 99 signatures in less than 48 hours.
“I have communicated with President Bollinger, but with no response, I’m afraid,” wrote DeWitt Clinton Professor of History Eric Foner in an email. Foner has taken a lead in negotiating with the administration on behalf of protesting students in the past.
These developments come in a broad swell of campus support.
On Wednesday, a School of General Studies referendum echoed overwhelming support for fossil fuel divestment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies, with 71.5% of voting students in favor.
The sit-in has received 29 statements of support, including student organizations such as both Columbia College and Columbia Engineering’s Student Councils, non-profits, and the Bernie Sanders campaign as featured on CNN Money.
“Every bit of campus support matters to us, in giving us the resolve to remain inside Low to demand fossil fuel divestment and in proving how invested the administration is in ignoring student and community voices,” said Iliana Salazar-Dodge, Columbia College senior and one of the students entering the seventh day of the sit-in in Low.