Recently, a group of Chinese students reported that their room name tags were ripped off during the time of the Chinese New Year. Some students found that their door tags with their names written in Chinese spelling were removed, and such incidents were reported in different residence halls, including East Campus, Furnald, Shapiro and Hartley. The Lion is currently investigating if this is an intentional action of discrimination towards Chinese community.
This has raised concern among Chinese students. A student living in East Campus reported that she lives in a suite where all members are students from China, and their name tags have been ripped off three times since the beginning of this semester.
A number of students affected by such incidents have reported them to Public Safety and Residential Life, who we have also contacted for comment. We’ll update this story as we get more information.
Update 2/18/17, 3:48pm: The Deans of CC, SEAS, and GS have responded to the incident. The full email is below:
Dear Undergraduate Students,
It is an unfortunate reality that neither Columbia nor any other university is able to exist untouched by incidents that contradict our institution’s most precious values. The removal of the name tags of Chinese students living in undergraduate residence halls earlier this semester is one of those times, and all of us feel the harm done. Even more troubling is that the vandalism occurred around the celebration of Chinese New Year.
We continue to monitor the ongoing investigation of this incident and to provide support for students directly affected. As always, the investigation will remain confidential while it is being conducted. What we can tell you at this point is that we will continue to apply our rules and act in a manner that aims to deter this type of offensive behavior in the future. If you have any information that could shed light on what happened or those responsible, we urge you to please share it with a staff member in Residential Life or Multicultural Affairs, or to reach out to Cristen Kromm, Dean of Undergraduate Student Life for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, or to Tom Harford, Dean of Students for the School of General Studies.
It is perhaps commonplace for people to point out after incidents like this that the measure of an institution is found in its response; nonetheless, the observation feels particularly apt in this case, given the two videos produced by Columbia students in recent days, as well as the solidarity event held by the Global Ambassadors Program. These and other poignant expressions serve as a powerful rejection of targeting of any group on our campus, whether identifiable by race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. We applaud those messages; they are a testament to the strong spirit of activism, courage, support, and inclusion that defines our student body.
The collective commitment across our community to learning, expanding knowledge, and public service depends on an equal commitment to welcoming students, faculty, and staff from across the nation and around the world. It is impossible for us to pursue our schools’ missions without the contributions of people with a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. We will continue to frequently reassert this point during a time when the importance of celebrating difference bears reminding. We want to thank all of those who already have made themselves heard.
Peter J. Awn
School of General Studies
Mary C. Boyce
Dean of The Fu Foundation School of
Engineering and Applied Science
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education