Tony D. Senatore
"I'm the spokesman for the OK Boomer generation

Message to Columbia University: Smarten Up!

Photo: Tony Senatore: all rights reserved

Pro-Palestine protests have spread across the United States, and Columbia University is the epicenter of the turmoil. The situation at Columbia has escalated, and protesters now occupy Hamilton Hall. In my latest opinion piece on Merion West, I asserted that Columbia University President Minouche Shafik was in a difficult situation, and the problem she faced was a slow and steady process of American colleges advancing a radical agenda under the auspices of academic freedom. As a Columbia student, I warned the university, as Socrates warned Athens, that it has become sluggish and needed someone like me to remind them that activists were undermining the Columbia University legacy that the Columbia administration was taking for granted. Parallels have been drawn between the current protests and the ones that occurred in 1968, and I agree, but for different reasons than today’s progressives. The commonality between both protests is that two agendas are promulgated; one is mainstream, and the other is more radical. During the 1968 protests at Columbia, a significant percentage of students wanted to end the Vietnam War and nothing more. The SAS occupation of Hamilton Hall, which supplanted the SDS-led occupation, tells a different story. On April 23, eighty-six black Columbia students “evicted” the white students inside Hamilton Hall, renaming it Malcolm X Liberation College in the process. The reason was that the SAS leaders believed the SDS’ goals were not clearly defined and were not as revolutionary as the ones held by the SAS.

In 2024, the same thing is happening. Some students want a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian war, but nestled within the protesters is a faction similar to the SAS that is decidedly more ambitious and radical. As such, they have taken over Hamilton Hall and have renamed it Hind’s Hall in memory of Hind Rajab, a six-year-old girl from Gaza who was killed in the Israeli counteroffensive waged as a result of Hamas’ October 7th attack on Israel. The group posted on social media that they continue to stand in solidarity with Palestinian Liberation. I would argue that the concept of Palestinian Liberation is not clearly defined, and like the SAS before them, it has revolutionary goals. One thing is sure. Some pro-Palestinian protesters have singled out Israel as the only nation on earth that does not deserve to exist.

My message to Columbia University is simple, and it is not from a renowned academic, philosopher, or activist but from Jimmy Burke of Goodfellas fame. You have to do the right thing. Look at me! You must regain control of the university before it’s too late. Smarten up! The protesters have to go home. They have to go home. Not every Columbia University student is there to start a revolution; it is time for college administrations across the United States to realize that. Keeping students safe and helping them achieve their educational goals should be the number one job of any college administration.

About the Author
I was a sociology major at Columbia University, where i received my B.A in 2017, at age 55. My opinion pieces have appeared in the Columbia Spectator, the Tab at Columbia University, and Merion West.
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