Occupy Columbia University’s Week of Action

By Sarah Lipkis

Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began two months ago it has spread to cities across the United States. Columbia University is known for its politically charged atmosphere and a rich history of student protests and movements. When both Columbia’s history and the spread of the Occupy movement are taken into account, it is no surprise that Occupy Columbia University has taken a hold of this campus.

Last week, November 14th-18th, was Occupy Columbia University’s Week of Action. Every day for the past week, members of the Occupy Columbia group planned various events related to Occupy Wall Street. The week started on Monday with a protest in front of the Law Library to end the Sotheby’s lockout (the auction house has locked out their union workers due to a contract dispute). Tuesday night there was a student-teacher discussion regarding whether people have the right to an education, which a number of both professors and students showed up for. Student protesters gathered at Lincoln Center during the Juilliard Opera performance of Kommilitonen!, a modern opera that emphasizes the importance of student protests. Outside the opera, student protesters, including members of the Barnard/Columbia community, stood shouting “off the stage, into the streets.” Their goal was to bring the themes of the opera to life by bringing focus to the current student protests.
Thursday November 17, 2011, was labeled a “Day of Action” with protests all over the city honoring the two-month anniversary of the movement. Adding to the commotion and hysteria of the day was the fact that earlier in the week, Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti Park and prohibited from rebuilding the tent city.

In response, Occupy Columbia University, along with Occupy movements from various universities, went down to Wall Street in order to re-occupy Zuccotti Park. Protesters first met at 11:30 A.M. on the steps of Low Memorial Library for a protest party to celebrate the movement, and at 2:00 P.M., more students joined them to go down to Zuccotti Park together. Occupy Columbia University organized a petition asking professors to not penalize students who decided to join the protest instead of attending class, and about 129 Columbia/Barnard professors signed it.

Though their Week of Action has ended, Occupy Columbia University has no plans to stop. Their presence is clearly felt on campus through their public general assembly meetings, posters, Facebook page, and Tumblr account. With the heart of the Occupy Movement currently blocked from Zuccotti Park, all eyes are on Manhattan to see what happens next.

Sarah is a junior at Barnard and Photography Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Occupy CU

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