CUNY and Columbia: A Tale of Two Campuses

CUNY and Columbia: A Tale of Two Campuses

Why are the Metropolis College protesters being charged with felonies that could land them as a lot as nine years in jail—while Columbia students are facing well-known lighter sentences?

CCNY Student Sing
Tensions upward push between Metropolis College of Novel York students and police because the students field up encampments and whisper against Israeli attacks on Gaza in Novel York on April 25, 2024. (Fatih Aktas / Anadolu by Getty Photos)

Within the early hours of Would possibly presumably well merely 1, teams of police in insurrection gear, brandishing mace and tasers, stormed the neo-Gothic Harlem campus of the Metropolis College of Novel York to get rid of a Gaza team spirit encampment. Earlier within the evening and about 20 blocks south, officers had removed protesters from Columbia University’s Hamilton Corridor, which students had occupied within the early hours of the old morning. 170 participants were arrested at Metropolis College, and 112 at Columbia. Extra than 2,000 participants were arrested protesting against Israel on campuses nationwide within the final month.

The events on every campuses looked as if it would be half and parcel of the a similar sage, however because the arraignments concluded on the afternoon of Would possibly presumably well merely 2, it turned out that the costs against the two devices of protesters were very a form of. Forty-six protesters at Columbia were charged with criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor, which carries a a maximum sentence of 90 days in penal complex; 28 protesters at Metropolis College were charged with housebreaking within the third stage, a class D criminal that can lead to sentences of as a lot as seven years in penal complex. Various costs, per a Metropolis Corridor press launch, incorporated assault on a police officer, obstructing governmental administration, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

Columbia is an Ivy League college where students (or their fogeys) will pay over $68,000 a year for tuition by myself, whereas at Metropolis College, which is half of the Metropolis University of Novel York (CUNY) plot, students pay merely over $7,000. At CUNY, the pupil body is “overwhelmingly working class, overwhelmingly first generation,” Celina Su, a professor of political science at the CUNY Graduate Center who protested against the usage of police force within the wake of the arrests, urged me. “These are participants with households, deeply embedded in local communities, extinct to talking with students very well-known now not like themselves at school, working a pair of jobs to pay excessive rents and put meals on the table, sharing issues over the dying tolls in Gaza, and their issues over their college’s responses to—and literal investments in—the struggling.”

This week, over five hundred CUNY school signed an launch letter to the college’s chancellor, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. They blamed the college administration for the disparity in punishment:

Columbia students’ costs were lowered; CCNY students’ were now not. Legal professionals observing the circumstances document that CCNY was especially gradual to launch relevant images to the courts. This racialized mistreatment will positively continue by all future levels of the criminal factual plot, from judgment to penalties.

The letter writers demonstrate that there was no ultimatum to vacate the encampment by Tuesday evening from the college administration, and that the college administration “violated” their very accept as true with ultimatum by sending police in before it had expired. Of us interested with the protests allege that more inclined students from lower earnings and minority backgrounds had planned to circulation away the encampment when the ultimatum was field to expire, on Wednesday, however that they were caught up within the police motion because it got here before the legitimate lower-off date. Metropolis College president Vincent Boudreau was now not accessible for comment for this sage, however he urged a Town Corridor of students and college that he regrets now not breaking up the encampment earlier. (Boudreau himself was arrested several times while protesting for divestment in apartheid South Africa as a pupil at Cornell within the 1980s.)

The district attorney’s office charged the students after reviewing proof following the arrests. The criminal complaints expose that more proof was in the initiating put accessible to prosecutors within the case of the Metropolis College arrests than all the contrivance by these at Columbia. “The defendants were half of a group of roughly 22 participants who unlawfully won entry right into a Metropolis College constructing and erected barricades to forestall police from entering the constructing,” the arraignment story states. “As successfully as to blockading doorways with furnishings and other items, this group also threw items at responding officers, similar to a chair and a trashcan, bodily interfered with officers capability to earn previous the barricades, spray painted surveillance digicam lenses, and tried to strike at the least one officer with a keyboard.”

The devices of costs against the protesters are “discretionary charging choices,” explained Jennvine Wong, a supervising attorney at the Magnificent Relief Society. These can switch later. Novel York District Attorney Alvin Bragg has promised to “question at every particular particular person case” and review proof, in conjunction with police body cam images. (The DA’s office declined to comment in accordance with questions from The Nation.) However peaceable, Wong acknowledged, the explanation for the disparity in charging “is rather unclear, since their behaviour appears to be like to be to be the a similar.”

Wong acknowledged that the disparities in costs lift questions. “I maintain it’s a request for many of us who’re listening to about these costs—why is it that the final public college young participants purchased the more serious costs, as against the deepest college young participants?” she acknowledged, though she could well now not direct to prosecutorial choices on this particular case. “In my abilities, as a public defender, seeing a disparity in costs that displays the socioeconomic class divide—that’s now not queer.” The DA’s office has acknowledged this could merely continue to investigate, and that the costs could well switch.

The police violence at Metropolis College was more intense than at Columbia (though one police office did discharge a firearm all the contrivance by the operation to retake Hamilton Corridor). There are reviews of various students and college contributors being tasered and pepper-sprayed by law enforcement officers on the Harlem campus. Two students had their tooth smashed and one undergraduate’s ankle was damaged. (The NYPD’s press office declined to comment, however referred me to a press convention given by Mayor Eric L. Adams and Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban the morning after the arrests in which Adams blamed a global “motion to radicalize young participants” for the violence.) The Metropolis College administration was unavailable to comment at time of newsletter.

The protesters identified the dangers of unleashing law enforcement against a pupil body populated by minorities. “We know that CUNY unleashed law enforcement officers onto campus with the beefy data of our demographics, which will be majority Dark, brown, and dealing class, and with the beefy data of the disparities that Dark, brown, and dealing-class participants already face below the plot,” Musabika Nabiha, a CUNY alum who has been taking into account Palestine organizing with the recent students, urged me. As for the heavy costs, Nabiha acknowledged, “Here’s merely completely unconscionable. This could atomize the lives of these protesters in accordance with their righteous whisper for Palestinian liberation.”

Celina Su accepted that CUNY is funded by the Metropolis of Novel York, which has passed by a sequence of fee range cuts below Mayor Adams’s administration, whereas the police force had now not been lower. She accepted the rising militarization of the NYPD and the usage of the Strategic Response Neighborhood (SRG) to raid the encampment: “It was created as a counter-terrorism unit and treats protesters as terrorists.” (Closing year, as half of a court docket settlement coming up from their on the total violent facing of the 2020 Dark Lives Topic protests, the NYPD agreed that the unit wouldn’t be extinct against protesters with out doubtless motive for arrest.)

The letter from Metropolis College school notes the “particularly repressive” cure by the SRG, and questions why communications from the college receive solid students as fee of punishment and now not of safety and education. “Our young participants are the ethical conscience of our society,” the letter reads. “The costs need to be dropped.”

The disparity of costs does now not appear to receive affected what Nabiha describes as “team spirit” between the Columbia and Metropolis College protesters. “Every of these campuses and communities are united in organizing with out cost and liberated Palestine, for folks’s universities, for investing within the communities in which we’re embedded in,” she acknowledged. “CUNY must stress the DA to tumble the costs, must completely refuse to participate within the prosecutions. CUNY uplifts sad and brown students and alumni in its DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] initiatives, they boast the truth that they’re the excellent Dark and brown public college plot within the nation. Within the event that they if reality be told care in regards to the security of their students and about uplifting minoritized communities, they wish to refuse to participate on this prosecution.”

Thanks for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the sage you merely read, only 1 of the a gargantuan different of incisive, deeply reported articles we publish day to day. Now bigger than ever, we need courageous journalism that moves the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that on the total budge unheard in mainstream media.

Donate ethical now and wait on us care for the worthy responsible, shine a light-weight on issues that could otherwise be swept below the rug, and make a more merely and equitable future.

For nearly 160 years, The Nation has stood for reality, justice, and ethical clarity. As a reader-supported newsletter, we’re now not beholden to the whims of advertisers or an organization owner. However it completely does rob financial resources to document on reviews that could merely rob weeks or months to investigate, completely edit and reality-test articles, and earn our reviews to readers fancy you.

Donate this day and stand with us for the next future. Thanks for being a supporter of self adequate journalism.

Thanks in your generosity.

Nicolas Niarchos

Nicolas Niarchos is a journalist whose work makes a speciality of conflicts, minerals, and migration. A frail Nation intern, his work has been published in The Novel Yorker, The Guardian, and The Self reliant. He is currently working on a e book about cobalt mining.

Read Extra






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *