Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification

Harlem: The Trail of Tears
March 12, 2011, 2:03 pm
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A look at Columbia University’s land-grab efforts in West Harlem. Produced by the Youth Leadership Group of the Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center.


Columbia’s Civilizing Mission
February 7, 2011, 6:16 pm
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An recent op-ed by Columbia undergrad Yasmeen Ar-Rayani argues that the University acts as a colonial force in Harlem by taking advantage of a highly unequal education system:

But what can we make of the educational component of this particular project’s PR campaign, given the “separate and unequal” reality in which local schools operate? In effect, Columbia is taking advantage of educational apartheid in order to sugarcoat its expansion. If Harlem had quality schools despite its low property tax level, it wouldn’t need the services that Columbia provides and subsequently uses to justify the displacement of local residents. These educational initiatives do not work against educational apartheid; they work with it. It is a classic colonial strategy to strike with one hand and give with the other. Student volunteer work appropriated by the administration is a part of this overall operation, despite its alliance with the gentler hand.

This effort to cloak expansion with “charity” adds insult to injury. In 2007, University President Lee Bollinger spoke on the Manhattanville expansion at a local community board meeting. Though he was heckled throughout his speech, the roar of the crowd climaxed when Bollinger listed the “benefits” that the expansion would bring to Harlem. Despite the verbal attacks, there he stood, grinning relentlessly, a white man informing people of color that the takeover of their territory is in their best interest.

Neighbors DISPLACING Neighbors
December 9, 2010, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In response to an offensive, lying, PR sign over Columbia’s gate that says: “We’re neighbors helping neighbors” students held a lively demonstration, changing the sign to “We’re neighbors DISPLACING neighbors.”

Columbia’s own numbers estimate 5,000 Harlem residents will be displaced in the coming years – we believe many more than that will be priced out of their neighborhood.

At the demo, students dressed as mock university administrators pleaded, “But we’re helping!!!” to which the community responded, “LIES!!!!”

Students dressed as mock administrators lead the group in a Manhattanville Shimmy of displacement.


Columbia Has Declared War on Harlem
June 6, 2010, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

"Columbia has Declared War on Harlem"

Artwork posted in the hallway of Barnard College at Columbia. Much credit to the unknown artist.

Manhattanville Documentary
April 29, 2010, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

Check out this video documentary by students Nick Kraus and Dominique Mosbergen:

Bollinger Forgets Community Voice
January 28, 2010, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Info | Tags: , , ,

From the CU Senate minutes proposed January 29, 2010:

[President Bollinger] recalled that Community Board 9 ultimately voted in favor of the project, and Columbia worked out an extensive community benefits agreement, committing itself over the life of the development to an extraordinary array of helpful projects

How easily Bollinger forgets. Not only did CB9 actually vote down the project 32-2, they booed Bollinger for nearly two minutes straight! See the video clip below.

It’s worth noting that CB9 also unanimously voted down the community benefits agreement he says is so wonderful.

Coverage of Saturday’s Rally
December 14, 2009, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Credit: The Columbia Spectator

From the Spec:

State Senator Bill Perkins (D-West Harlem) likened the threat of eminent domain to “using a gun in a mugging. … You don’t always have to use the gun. People say, ‘Here, take my money.”

Holding up a sign that read “Harlem is not for sale, it’s our home,” Perkins said to laughter from the crowd, “There’s not much more to say.”

Many attendees compared the court victory—which came as a surprise to many—as a modern-day David and Goliath story, and credited it to strong community mobilization.

“The lesson here is about struggle, that if a community struggles against seemingly gigantic, David and Goliath odds, you will prevail,” said Nellie Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council president and a member of the Coalition to Preserve Community, adding, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

In response, CU officials said they aren’t actually listed as litigants in the case or appeal. Whether or not they put their name on it doesn’t change their actions in West Harlem or their continued desire to use eminent domain against the Harlem community despite that the court ruled such actions unconstitutional.

There’s also video coverage from NY1 here.