Opinion | Op-eds

Title IX Team: Bollinger, speak up for sexual rights activism

  • No More | Smita Sen, CC '16, at the Title IX Team freeze mob in November.

Dear President Bollinger: 

We would like to begin by reminding you of the deep respect and admiration that members of this campus have for you as president of the University. It is because of this that we seek your support in concerns about sexual violence and the way sexual violence is handled on this campus. This issue concerns not just the safety of individual victims but also that of all members of the Columbia community. Just as President Obama stated that this crisis is one of our nation’s top priorities, we believe that this act of leadership must be replicated here, in our home away from home.

Throughout last semester, students at Columbia raised concerns about this problem. The Title IX Team organized a protest on Nov. 19 to raise awareness of sexual violence on campus and Title IX rights. The Columbia Democrats crafted a petition that garnered more than 1,00 signatures. Throughout last semester, student leaders were constantly engaging in dialogue with the administration, and now we have gotten a response. Student leaders have been invited to work with the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault to discuss possible ways to move forward. The leaders of the Title IX Team were consulted in the development of a much-needed new website entitled “Sexual Respect”—announced in an email today to the entire school—that clearly outlines our campus resources, the nature of the sexual misconduct adjudication process, and frequently asked questions about the process.

We are excited about this progress. However, more progress is still necessary for members of the Columbia community to know that their safety is a priority. Given the national uproar surrounding this issue and the fact that nearly 50 different colleges are under investigation for Title IX or Clery Act violations, we had hoped that our University’s president would at the very least make a statement to address student concerns. In the past semester alone, three articles have been published in major media outlets that suggest Columbia University does not actively create an environment free from sexual violence and harassment. Activists feel pressure to voice their concerns to the press—an action seen as hostile—rather than peacefully to Columbia. This is because when they are heard in a more public arena, they are more likely to be heard by the University. To effect change, activists have to go over Columbia’s head, making peaceful change impossible. But why does this have to be the case?

When Columbia College Student Council President Daphne Chen wrote an open letter to you in November expressing her hope that “one day you’ll really speak to us,” we hoped that perhaps you would respond. We hoped that perhaps you would participate a bit more vocally in addressing student concerns. As activists interested in addressing an issue as visceral and personal as sexual violence on campus, we hoped that at the very least our University’s president would acknowledge our concerns as legitimate.

The next step seems small but carries a lot of weight in the Columbia community and beyond: We would like to hear from you, President Bollinger. Not only as activists and students, but also as human beings looking to participate in a more open dialogue that will facilitate positive change.

Sincerely,

Title IX Team
Smita Sen, CC ’16
Darializa Avila-Chevalier, CC ’16
Jean Kim, CC ’16

The authors are Columbia College sophomores. They are members of Title IX Team. Darializa Avila-Chevalier is an illustrator for Spectator. 

Correction: An earlier version of this op-ed stated that the Columbia Democrats' petition had garnered over 600 signatures. In fact, the petition has well over 1,000 signatures. Spectator regrets the error.

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

Of course you have to use that respect talk. Whatever. The truth is Bollinger is pretentious, and does not do the right things. The sooner somebody removes him from all roles at Columbia, the better it will be for Columbia.

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Anonymous posted on

Maybe if people weren't such drunk loose whores, rape wouldn't happen. lololol. LAWL.

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Anonymous posted on

Thank you Columbia dean. Clearly there's conviction in your sexist rant. You represent Columbia admirably.

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Anonymous posted on

Men can be just as drunk, loose, and whorish as women. I never said they couldn't.

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MJL Class of 2017 posted on

I don't quite understand the unadulterated praise heaped upon Bollinger at the beginning of every op-ed piece.

Since I have arrived, he has seemingly shirked all responsibility and refused to engage in campus dialogue, with the sole exception of defending the AD, an act that has been criticized by many as partisan and political.

We need answers to our questions, and until we receive them, the president should be viewed in a negative light. By judging him by previous successes, the student body is giving Bollinger a plethora of 'get-out-of-jail-free' cards. It's time we judge him on a case-by-case basis; only then can we expect him to take the time to engage with us and take steps to remedy situations, such as sexual assault, that continue to blight the Columbia community.

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Anonymous posted on

Because it's not wise to insult powerful people, especially when you want something from them.

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MJL Class of 2017 posted on

Who said anything about insulting? I strive for objectivity. When viewed through an objective lens, Bollinger has failed to support the student body. Read Daphne Chen's piece if you need further convincing that we have been let down.

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Anonymous posted on

I'm not disagreeing with you, I believe we have. I also believe Bollinger isn't required to give two fucks about what a bunch of measly little undergrads think. I think he's also made that objectively clear. You can either fight the machine head on, or do it in a more diplomatic sense that entails a gratuitous amount of ass kissing. There's a reason why those texts you read in CC from the scientific revolution contain at-least 2-3 pages of pandering to the Catholic Church. You don't wanna piss off the boss. There's a fine line between "gee, you know, these kids actually have a fair point, its time for me to step up" and "Lol these fucking know nothing bitch ass lil pricks are telling ME what to do? Son, im finna count these stacks tho. Real shit. Get this shit off my desk" Idk that's just my two cents. Maybe I'm wrong. idk.

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