The Graduate Workers of Columbia-UAW Local 2110 (GWC-UAW) Organizing Committee stands in solidarity with students from all schools at Columbia participating in the tuition strike organized by the Columbia-Barnard chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America. Columbia’s administration has demonstrated a flagrant disregard for initiatives democratically supported within the community, including:
Students demonstrating against the injustice of exorbitant tuition rates since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2019;
Academic student-workers in GWC-UAW demanding fair wages, healthcare, international student workers protections, access to grievance and arbitration for discrimination and harassment, union shop, and union recognition for masters and undergraduate student-workers;
Mobilized African Diaspora and its nearly 1,500 supporters calling for the University to address its own role in upholding racist policing practices, damaging local communities, and inadequately supporting Black students;
Almost a thousand students, faculty, and alums signing on in support of full divestment from fossil fuels last semester, along with referendums at Barnard and Columbia College in which students voted overwhelmingly to divest from companies involved in Israeli human rights violations.
The administration’s unilateral, anti-democratic decision-making process has perpetuated the injustices in our community, despite the fact that the University possesses ample resources to confront them with structural solutions. In light of these widely felt grievances and the administration’s inaction, GWC-UAW Organizing Committee supports the tuition strike demands, which are as follows:
- Columbia must alleviate the economic burden on students by reducing the cost of attendance and increasing financial aid.
- Reduce the cost of attendance (including tuition, fees, and room & board) by at least 10%.
- Increase financial aid by at least 10%.
- Replace the “student responsibility” with grants.
We also demand that this reduction and increased aid should not come at the expense of instructor or worker pay, but rather at the expense of bloated administrative salaries, expansion projects, and other expenses that don’t benefit students and workers.
- Columbia must fulfill its responsibilities to the people of West Harlem by committing to provide employment, education, and affordable housing, and to end expansion.
- Columbia must defund Public Safety and invest in community safety solutions that prioritize the safety of Black students and West Harlem residents, and repair harm caused by prior racist practices of Public Safety.
- Columbia must commit to complete transparency about the University’s investments and respect the democratic votes of the student body regarding investment and divestment decisions. This includes respecting the referendums at Barnard and Columbia College to divest from companies involved in human rights violations, divesting fully from fossil fuels, and respecting the results of future referendums relating to investment decisions.
- Columbia must bargain in good faith with unions on campus around their key demands for improved compensation, benefits, and protections. This includes guaranteeing protections to international student workers and granting union recognition for masters and undergraduate student-workers.
We wholeheartedly support and stand with YDSA and their tuition strike pledge signatories as they make these demands. We encourage Columbia students to sign onto the pledge to commit to withhold their tuition if they are able to. The pledge also offers ways to get involved (other than striking tuition) to support these demands. In particular, their day of action on Monday, December 7 is a great way to show support.
Instructors are also encouraged to share the pledge with their students and departments and to show solidarity with students striking tuition by committing to continue teaching students who are withholding tuition. This could involve providing Zoom links and materials outside of Courseworks should the University lock students out, but we will know more details as the tuition strike progresses.