Columbia students stage COVID-19 related tuition strike

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Over 1,000 students at New York City’s Columbia University are withholding this semester’s tuition funds, demanding a ten % lower in tuition and a ten % enhance in monetary assist for students burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strike, which was organized by the Columbia chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, started in December when over 3,000 students signed a petition that the coed group circulated on-line. The strike formally commenced final Friday — the day tuition checks had been formally due.

In a press release on the group’s web site, titled “We’re Striking Because We Know Our History,” organizers cite “past student-movements at Columbia” — together with 1968 anti-Vietnam War protests and a wide range of student-led social justice actions that took root throughout the 2010s — as inspiration for the present tuition strike.

“These protests had long-lasting effects on Columbia but, most importantly, they showed who truly holds power on college campuses: students,” the assertion reads.

The students are additionally demanding that Columbia use a few of its $11 billion endowment to alleviate the monetary burden the pandemic has positioned on them.

University figures present Columbia tuition for the 2020-2021 tutorial yr is nearly $59,000, and undergraduate students end on common with virtually $22,000 in pupil debt, in response to US News and World Report.

In a tweet, the Columbia YDSA Tuition Strike account identified that the varsity additionally employs Lee Bollinger, the second-highest paid president within the Ivy League, who has not taken a pay minimize because the starting of the pandemic.

In addition to the tuition calls for, strike organizers have additionally referred to as for quite a few social justice and local weather change reforms, comparable to a divestment from fossil gasoline corporations, negotiations with student-worker unions, and a halt to development on the varsity’s new Manhattanville campus to cease the gentrification of the Harlem space.

Organizers are additionally demanding directors honor the outcomes of a referendum handed final yr and divest from corporations concerned with human rights abuses in Palestine.

In a press release to Fox News, Columbia contended that it had already made pandemic-related modifications to the college’s tuition system, and that it welcomes all enter from students on the way to “strengthen” the University.

“In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the University modified its late fee policy in March of 2020 and suspended all late fees until January 2021,” a spokesperson for Columbia University stated Thursday.

“As communicated beforehand, starting on January 22, 2021, a late fee charge of $150 can be assessed for any unpaid prices remaining from payments issued earlier than and on December 18, 2020.

“This is a moment when an active reappraisal of the status quo is understandable, and we expect nothing less from our students. Their voices are heard by Columbia’s leadership, and their views on strengthening the University are welcomed.”

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