May 17, 2024
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May 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

To Whom it May Concern,

I am a Columbia College graduate, class of ‘06, and I recently worked at Columbia/Barnard Hillel as the director of development. I have always been a proud Columbia alumna, up until this year. Now, I am truly embarrassed. I am appalled at how Columbia and its administration mishandled the encampments and violent protests, allowing encampments to be built in the first place, allowing students and non-students to violently intimidate Jewish and Israeli students and faculty with violent words and actions on the school’s grounds, and allowing for a mob to escalate to the point that they violated and vandalized property, trapped and injured staff within Hamilton Hall, and destroyed and made a mockery of our campus.

Columbia used to be a physically safe haven within its gates, an intellectually open forum and a diverse culture where students with different backgrounds could learn, expand their minds and meet and engage with friends and peers who may or may not have had different opinions. To see a mob using intimidation tactics, holding signs and shouting calls for the death of and violence against their Jewish and Israeli peers, physically blocking and intimidating them from moving freely around campus, and then taking over and physically damaging and vandalizing this historic campus—what an abomination to this sacred school!

How can we be sure that Columbia students are kept safe? How can we feel confident that students feel welcome on campus regardless of their religion or nationality? Should it really be okay that Jewish and Israeli students were intimidated and couldn’t move freely on campus? And for so long? Is it okay that these intimidation tactics weren’t stopped until there was both violence and destruction of property? The last straw was after the events at Hamilton Hall. Destruction, vandalism, holding people within a building against their will are not ok! And only then was the NYPD brought in. There should have been a stop to the harassment, discrimination, encampments and verbal and physical intimidation of Jewish and Israeli students and faculty much, much earlier. This was beyond disgraceful.

This was not civil discourse, dialogue or free speech – all lessons that are taught (or, at least, used to be taught) at Columbia. Individuals who use language and tactics of intimidation and destruction should not be rewarded or “let off” for their abhorrent behavior. Actions have consequences. Columbia University needs to be a physically and intellectually safe space. By allowing the campus to be run temporarily by a mob, and filled with outside violent agitators, the university has become a place that is unrecognizable. This was not a show of free speech; it was, instead, destructive and damaging to the physical campus and to the core of what Columbia represents.

While we can’t go back in time, we can make changes going forward. There must be zero tolerance for the harassment, discrimination and intimidation of Jewish and Israeli students, faculty and staff. Violent actions like the ones that happened leading up to and at the Hamilton Hall takeover cannot be tolerated or glossed over. The students, faculty, and staff who participated in the encampment and the takeover of Hamilton Hall must be held accountable for their actions. That is the least you can do to repair the damage to Columbia’s property and to its long-held reputation. I hope to see Columbia return to being a place that we can all be proud of again.

Thank you,

Jocy London CC ‘06


Jocelyn London graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and art history. After working in finance and communications, she dedicated her time to nonprofits, including recently serving as the director of development at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel. She actively volunteers with local philanthropies and global causes.

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