Thursday, February 17, 2005


Dear Columbia Libertarians,
My name is Tao Tan and I am currently a sophomore in the College. I write for the Spectator and I serve on Student Council. I'm writing because there is a matter afoot which your organization might be interested in. This matter is Manhattanville.

In the past few weeks, the Coalition to Preserve Community had repeatedly threatened the construction of a "tent city", in effect, a forcible occupation - if you will - of Columbia's grounds to protest Manhattanville.

Last night, at a forum held here, I believe they went over the top. The following is a quote from a Spectator article:

'The discussion ended with a question from first-year SIPA student Vincent Villano, “How might we able to get President Bollinger to actually talk to the community?”
DeMott responded, “Storm his office."'

The group is now actively promoting student uprisings and have themselves hinted at violence and force (they talk about their tent city as a "counterattack").

The last time this happened, in 1968, a group called the "Majority Coalition" - so named because they collected the signatures of 2000 students, the majority of the CC student body at the time - formed. Wearing a set uniform (back then jackets and ties), they held counter-protests while Mark Rudd took over buildings. Essentially, they blocked the exits of the buildings and denied food from being passed in while people were perfectly free to leave.

The Majority Coalition's mission was simple back then - leaving aside the issue of the gym for the moment, they opposed the forcible occupation of Columbia's buildings by a small, vocal, and determined minority and the disruption of University life.

Additionally, it is important to understand that in 1968 Mark Rudd never wanted to talk. He just wanted to smear Columbia. He refused any form of negotiation, and so President Kirk was forced to call police. With the resulting media circus and decades of bad publicity, he nearly achieved his goal. Thus, it is vitally important that if and when this "counterattack" happens, the police not be called but that the students themselves demonstrate their opposition to this group occupying the Columbia campus.

Accordingly, I am reaching out to see if groups on campus might be interested in taking part in a new Majority Coalition to oppose this "counterattack", to do it peacefully (to avoid a media circus which is exactly what the CPC people want), and to provide a visible representation of the silent majority who do support expansion, the debate on which is currently being fueled by elements from the far left.

Please let me know if this is something your group and your members would be interested in.


Tao Tan, Class of 2007


Clara said...

Why don't we just take today's Rudds seriously --- and call their bluffs.

Columbia out of Manhattanville? Why stop there? Columbia out of Morningside Heights! Businesses and educational institutions out of New York City! Tear down every last vestige of civilization! Because the *native* New Yorkers who *own* this land would be so much better off that way.

Adam Scavone said...

I second Clara's motion.

Seriously, though, these people are organized and out of control.

Does anyone know how Columbia is acquiring the property? Purchasing it, or eminent domaining it? My thoughts hinge on that.

Jeff said...

It seemed to me like Columbia started buying up properties years ago in secret, because they knew that they had to do that to keep prices down. It's like how Walt Disney flew in a private plane and under a false name to Orlando in order to buy the land for Disney World, because he knew he'd have to pay double if people learned who he was. Then what happened is that some people found out and suddenly realized that they could try to squeeze some extra money out of Columbia's large coffers, by crying foul (until Columbia offers double the money, of course).

Now, there could be some people who genuinely do not want to move, and Columbia should not be allowed to force them to move. But, I don't understand why anyone wouldn't. They're going to receive far more for their land then it's really worth, and the neighborhood will be greatly improved. Columbia provides so many jobs and so many opportunities. They're building a gigantic, fancy hotel on Madison and 125th, mainly because of Columbia, that will provide hundreds of jobs to local Harlemites. Any new buildings opened up in Manhattanville will also provide many new jobs for people in the area. Seems like it's the right move for the neighborhood, if you ask me.

Tao said...

Clara, that's exactly what I suggested here.