BREAKING: Columbia Stops Enforcing Recording Contract

We are thrilled to announce Columbia University has stopped forcing students and their advisors to sign a form stating they will not record the Gender-based Misconduct process. While the recording ban is still handed out to students, Columbia has declined to discipline students who openly violated the contract.

This change is due to the hard work of the students, faculty, and allies who supported the #RightToRecord campaign. To the 740+ people who signed the #RightToRecord petition, those who posted pictures online as part of the #RightToRecord hashtag campaign, those who attended the rally on October 28, and the survivors who bravely stepped forward and shared their stories, we thank you.

In particular, we want to acknowledge the organizations who endorsed our #RightToRecord petition: UAW Local 2110, UAW Local 2110-Barnard Contingent Faculty, UAW Local 2110-Graduate Workers of Columbia, Black Law Students Association, Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, Columbia Queer Alliance, Empowering Women of Color, Students for Justice in Palestine, International Socialist Organization, Latino/Latina Law Students Association, Take Back the Night, OutLaws, Mobilized African Diaspora, Divest Barnard, Columbia If/When/How, Columbia HeForShe, End Rape on Campus, Black Law Students Association-Northeastern Region, Our Harvard Can Do Better, Silence is Violence, and Sun Devils Against Assault.

There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to address sexual and dating violence on campus. Survivors, particularly Black survivors and survivors of color, continue to face increased violence and discrimination. We are still committed to fighting for a 24/7 rape crisis center and Title IX enforcement, and will work tirelessly until every SAAFE campus demand is met. However, the success of the #RightToRecord campaign proves we have the power to help make Columbia SAAFE.

In love and solidarity,

No Red Tape Columbia

 

P.S. Want a rundown of the #RightToRecord campaign from inception to victory? Check out our #RightToRecord webpage here!

On Barnard's Plans for Interim Title IX Coordinator

We were deeply concerned to learn that while Barnard searches for a new Title IX coordinator, they will not have an interim replacement. Instead, they will allocate various Title IX duties to members of General Counsel (the lawyers paid to protect Barnard from lawsuits) and other administrators.

The Office for Civil Rights mandates schools have a designated Title IX coordinator at all times. Even if a school has multiple Title IX coordinators, one should have overarching authority. Answer C-3 from OCR's "Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence" mandates:

If a school designates more than one Title IX coordinator, the school’s notice of nondiscrimination and Title IX grievance procedures should describe each coordinator’s responsibilities, and one coordinator should be designated as having ultimate oversight responsibility.

Barnard is blatantly violating this guideline by not having a specific interim coordinator while they hire a new one, and instead, randomly allocating different Title IX duties to various, untrained employees.

Further, in allocating Title IX coordinator duties to members of General Counsel (employees whose sole interest is in protecting the college's public image), Barnard is intimidating students and preventing them from seeking necessary assistance. Answer C-4 in the aforementioned OCR FAQ specifically states:

Because some complaints may raise issues as to whether or how well the school has met its Title IX obligations, designating the same employee to serve both as the Title IX coordinator and the general counsel (which could include representing the school in legal claims alleging Title IX violations) poses a serious risk of a conflict of interest.

We call upon Barnard to designate one employee not from General Counsel as interim Title IX coordinator. Not having a specific Title IX coordinator is unacceptable, and allocating duties to General Counsel is a clear conflict of interest that silences student voices.

Graduate Student Unionization

[CW - sexual harassment]

It has come to our attention that Professor Julia Hirschberg sent an email to Computer Science TAs arguing graduate student unionization would not help students fight sexual harassment on campus. Professor Hirschberg also contends EVP Suzanne Goldberg stated Columbia University is the only school in the country to provide legal support to students going through the gender-based misconduct process.

We were very confused to read this alleged assertion from EVP Goldberg, as it is not grounded in reality. Title IX encourages schools to provide students the option of having an attorney-advisor throughout the gender-based misconduct process, and many schools in the nation provide students with optional attorney-advisors. 

We further find the legal support Columbia offers insufficient. Columbia employs the services of Sanctuary for Families. However, Sanctuary for Families has a history of discouraging survivors from pursuing complaints, preventing survivors from documenting their cases, and relaying confidential information disclosed to them to Columbia in violation of attorney-client privilege (with the justification that Columbia is the “client”); Sanctuary for Families’ interest lies in protecting the University, not students who come to them for help.

In contrast, union legal representation for students during the gender-based misconduct process would have one person’s interest at heart: the best interest of the student seeking help.

As an organization that advocates for survivors of sexual harassment, we fully support graduate student unionization. A union is necessary to combat the sexual harassment Columbia has allowed to run rampant on campus. Professor Hirschberg and EVP Goldberg’s assertions that Columbia is sufficiently addressing sexual harassment on campus are insulting and categorically false.

We encourage all graduate students and undergraduate TAs to vote for unionization on December 7th and 8th. For more information on unionization, please click here.

On the Columbia Wrestling Team

This week, the Columbia community came together as students dealt with the results of the Presidential Election. We created safe spaces, organized rallies, and brought down the walls that normally divide students . We seemed to be taking the advice of Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama when, rather than give into the hate and gloom spurned by this election, we comforted each other and looked to the future.

Bwog’s recent uncovering of GroupMe messages sent by the Columbia Men’s Wrestling team provides a glaring depiction of the reality of hate and ignorance on this campus—a reality that is hard to accept for many of us. The messages, from 2014 and 2015, were examples of the hate that women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and many other marginalized people face daily.

Equally as disturbing is the mockery of sexual assault that the wrestlers make in the messages. Columbia University is tied for the second-most open Title IX investigations with the Office of Civil Rights in the country and is the first school many think of when they hear thinking about sexual assault on college campuses; sexual assault is not a joke and should never be dismissed as one.

No Red Tape condemns the actions and behaviors of the Columbia Men’s Wrestling team and believes they should be held accountable for their words. We hope we, as a campus community, can use this incident to strengthen our commitment to prevention education and having discussions about inclusivity. Our nationwide discourse about justice and liberation begins with the rhetoric of those closest to us, and it is on all of us to hold each other accountable for bigotry.

We are in solidarity with everyone who has been affected by these messages. In light of the events that have unfolded this week, Columbia Psychological Services is holding extended walk-in hours. For more information, you can contact them at 212-854-2878.

Jeri Henry: It's Time to Stop Hiding

It has been over a week since our #RightToRecord rally, but Columbia’s Student Conduct and Community Standards office (SCCS) has not responded to survivors sharing recordings they made of the gender-based misconduct process in violation of Columbia’s recording ban.

While we hope SCCS’s lack of response signals the University is beginning to listen to the petition advocating for the ban’s removal, we demand Columbia formally get rid of the recording ban, not simply ignore violations of it while students fear facing disciplinary action. To not follow through on threats of Dean’s Discipline is cowardly, makes a mockery of the gender-based misconduct process, and further proves the recording ban is a scare tactic.

We call upon Jeri Henry, the Associate Vice President of SCCS, to formally respond to our demand for an end to the recording ban by next Monday (11/14). SCCS’s only response thus far was turning off the lights in their office, presumably to act like no one was there, rather than face students who walked up eight flights of stairs to hand deliver the #RightToRecord petition. Columbia administrators should not literally cower in their offices to avoid fighting the battles they created.

AVP Henry, if you are going to have a policy that disenfranchises students, particularly Black students and students of color who are less likely to be believed when they speak out about discrimination, have the courage to defend your policy publicly. Our #RightToRecord rally signals the beginning of an ongoing commitment to escalation. It is time for you to stop hiding. We eagerly await your response.