Columbia human rights essay contest - what is a thesis statement in a rhetorical analysis


 

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columbia human rights essay contest

columbia human rights essay contestColumbia human rights essay contest -Students who had sidestepped the protests, who never would have thought of involving themselves in disruption of any kind, are galvanized, and a fresh wave of turmoil surges across Columbia, helping to set in motion similar actions at colleges and universities – public, private, rural, urban – across the United States.There wasn’t a groupuscule that was not, at one time or other, at odds with every other groupuscule. Demands from students to become part of the decision-making processes were thunderous, with “relevance” a new watchword when it came to curriculum reform.This segregationist move recapitulated the wider struggle and mimicked larger structures, as articulated by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).Some had cousins who had fought in Spain, who had copies of Paul Goodman, David Riesman, and C. This was, all in all, by 1968, a hyperpoliticized group, indelibly influenced and schooled by television imagery of Operation Rolling Thunder’s jungle war and Bull Connor’s dogs, plus the duck-and-cover absurdity of mutually assured destruction.Armed with little more than slingshots, many figured it likely would be an impossible fight, even with a global spirit of rebellion behind them, even when in solidarity with compadres on other continents.Here for a 2008 article about the project from When the country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. Thomas Paine Columbia’s problem is the problem of America in miniature. Hundreds of emboldened Columbia University students, many allied to two groups – Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Students’ Afro-American Society (SAS) – take direct action against what they regard as their university’s racist and militaristic policies by barricading themselves inside five buildings on campus.”) and disaffiliate with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which is conducting weapons research for the Department of Defense and so connects Columbia to war in Vietnam.Every individual on the Columbia campus in 1968 – no matter whose company they sought or kept, which organization or ideology they aligned themselves with, how committed they were to allegiances, or how fiercely they vowed to remain unaffiliated – was motivated by different reasons.All of them together, behind locked doors, with a unified vision, issuing demands: Columbia must end construction of a gymnasium in nearby Morningside Park (public parkland situated within a primarily black neighborhood – “Gym Crow Must Go!These short-haired, suit-and-tied athletes (the “jocks”) weren’t necessarily opposed to the final aims and long-range goals of the protesters (the “pukes”), who had immobilized the campus and shut down classes, but would have preferred, at the very least, that some form of rational persuasion be practiced instead.Many of them, for the first time in their lives, saw the necessity for direct action.Anxious to show the world that another face of Columbia existed, counterprotesters were determined to neutralize the infectious, invasive demonstrations by retaliating against the mobocracy and marching feet around them.Recent acknowledgments by antebellum universities of their participation in the slave trade have generated a new and robust reckoning with how intimately and interwoven the academy was with systemic oppression.At the core of any Columbia ’68 narrative must be the students behind the inciting incident, to whom everyone else responded.Years later, novelist and Mathematics occupier Paul Auster wrote that 1968 was the year he went “crazy.” A Time to Stir suggests that the real story isn’t what the tribe did once they reached that frenzied state, but how they crazy.Yet the symbolic value of the protests – “bringing the war home” – was pivotal.The year 1968 tested the seams of the American quilt like no other, and the deluge of antiwar protests and student activism in the second half of the sixties is a significant chapter in the story of postwar democratic inventiveness and effectiveness.Low, Avery, Mathematics, and Fayerweather became dynamic enclaves packed with hundreds of undergraduates and graduate students, holed up side-by-side with a host of sympathetic outsiders who suspected that Columbia would prove fertile recruiting ground for action on the streets beyond campus.For these men and women, pledged to the ideal of self-determination, some enthralled by the rise of Black Power, the act of closing ranks was made easier by the fact that most already knew each other.In their stories, we learn about the disillusionment of male undergraduates at Columbia College, the pent-up frustrations, the persistent and earnest activism, and the spontaneous occupation of five buildings by what student leader Mark Rudd described as a “motley mob.” Here was a ragtag collection of disaffected constituencies, a crowd – passionate, polemical, and reliant on instinct—with diverse political commitments but commonality of purpose, brought together by circumstance and a series of improvisational encounters, with a more or less group-centered leadership.columbia human rights essay contestHis trenchant case against Columbia ’68 begins with accusations that the insular, self-satisfied protesters, relishing the carnivalesque atmosphere, were more involved with “therapeutic” self-expression than any kind of meaningful political activity.Hamilton Hall remained “black only” for the rest of the weeklong occupation, under the leadership of SAS, which asserted that above all it represented the interests of Harlem’s working-class community.Of vital importance, too often forgotten today, or more likely simply unknown, was the fact that Hamilton Hall was held by a group of contemplative, disciplined black Columbia students who proved to be the strategic and moral centrifuge of the protests.The challenges came from all directions, including a battalion of Columbia students who declared that the occupiers’ tactics were an affront to the intellectual spirit of the university.The Role and Responsibility of Democratic Citizenship Throughout American history, citizens have used a variety of means—political organizations, voluntary associations, journals of opinion, public rallies, and protests – to exercise their democratic rights and make political and policy preferences known to elected officials.The “community of common commitment” was still there, but a new chapter in the fragile alliance between blacks and whites at Columbia was beginning.What happened to the campus as a bastion for the steady maintenance of basic notions and practices of academic freedom?Few periods of American history were as fecund (and chaotic) with such revitalizing expressions of citizen activism as the sixties, especially in terms of the creation and use of grassroots democratic tools, most prominently in the form of social change movements – often led by those feeling marginalized by mainstream politics.Some firebrands were intent on turning the campus into little more than the staging ground for their revolutionary aims, and it is no surprise that a direct line can be drawn from Columbia ’68 to the infamy of Weatherman.As Columbia student radical David Gilbert wrote in 1968, the structures of American higher education were “dedicated to the social functions required by modern capitalism.” These issues were exacerbated for students of color, with the university’s handful of black students resentful of a distant, unresponsive, and overwhelmingly white institution.After six days, with neither side leaning toward compromise, with no hope of reconciliation, law enforcement remove the protesters – more than seven hundred, of whom nearly two hundred are not Columbia students – from their makeshift, self-governing communes, one of which is held exclusively by black students.However one feels about what happened at Columbia University in 1968, the events serve as a rich case study, an opportunity to investigate broad themes, all not only relevant to campus events but also emblematic issues of the late sixties.Others – too young for that – had been taken by parents to the nation’s capital in August 1963 to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. Some were classic red (or pink) diaper babies, or children of devoted New Deal Democrats.For many students, Columbia – though smaller than public universities, such as Berkeley, the size of which encouraged protest on a larger scale – did not provide the cohesive, collegiate experience that its status in the Ivy League seemed to promise.On the first day of the fall 1967 semester, in an attempt to stave off disruption, a ban on protest inside campus buildings was instituted.At the same time, Columbia’s practical need for space and expanded facilities resulted in a land grab from a public park in West Harlem, an eerie echo to the kinds of thefts of property and persons familiar in previous centuries.Racial Justice in Sixties America Three weeks before Columbia students occupied the campus, Dr. was assassinated in Memphis, setting in motion a furious, grief-stricken response throughout the nation’s urban communities that lead to many deaths.The book is accompanied by an audio/visual project that makes use of seven hundred newly filmed interviews and tens of thousands of never-before-seen photographs, plus hours of archival material.This stoked the anomie and resistance of its young charges, sullying the notion of Columbia as a virtuous community of scholars.Symbolism, writes Eleanor Stein in this book, “is an enormously important, motivating, inspiring and engaging aspect of human existence and life.” Such debate frames one of the central issues of A Time to Stir: what is it that constitutes legitimate and effective political action – especially when it emerges from the ground up, from those with limited power? columbia human rights essay contest What better indication than a vast gymnasium with a symbolically segregationist back door did anyone need to understand that Columbia – expected to have an evolved, even enlightened approach to racial politics and the interaction between town and gown – was so shamefully out of step with the era?But at Columbia in April and May 1968, a prototype operation was presented to the world.They installed themselves wherever the New York Police Department (NYPD) and clutches of concerned parents – bearing chicken soup and bail money – weren’t taking up space.“Numbers and reason – not force and emotionalism – shall decide.” The largest mass of students, those cautious tenderfoots, stood on the sidelines, struggling to understand precisely what was going on, but knowing enough that they couldn’t let this historic moment pass them by.In a 1966 statement, SNCC explained that “white people who desire change in this country should go where that problem (of racism) is most manifest.” Reflecting the call for white activists to leave the South and head home to the urban North, before dawn on April 24 protesting white Columbia students – accused of indecision, feeling rejected and down-heartened – departed Hamilton, as requested by their black comrades.A Time to Stir: Columbia ’68 (2018) edited by Paul Cronin and published by Columbia University Press, contains more than sixty newly-written testimonials from a range of participants in the 1968 campus protests at New York’s Columbia University, when two key issues of the era – civil rights and the Vietnam War – collided.Immediately are unleashed, and made crystal clear, the schisms that have long existed on campus.The social and political issues that had energized the campus and the student protest movement for years reflected a formidable and transformative populist uprising that was engulfing whole swathes of the nation, even the globe – a rejoinder to the perceived inadequacies of mainstream institutions and politics.Columbia’s Core Curriculum – requiring undergraduates to study classics in Western civilization’s literary and philosophical heritage – was for some an oppressive celebration of imperialist values.Students saw this as a sign of hypocrisy, the worst marker of academic complicity in the military chain of command.These changes manifested themselves at Columbia in early 1968 with a change in SAS leadership, and then, after the joint SDS–SAS rally and sit-in at Hamilton Hall – that poignant, if brief, flash of interracial solidarity – with SAS telling white Columbia students they had to depart Hamilton and hold their own building.Given that plans for the gymnasium needed to be abandoned and Columbia’s disaffiliation from the IDA was a non-negotiable issue, students felt that they were committing a justified act of nonviolent civil disobedience.But there was a counterpoint: this was also a nucleus of sincere, bookish students who just as often could be found at the uptown end of the 1 train, standing on the sundial at the center of the Columbia campus, drawing in fellow students with precocious analyses of world affairs and leftist politics, fastidiously recounting frank historical narratives largely unavailable in the mainstream press, deflecting criticisms and fielding questions.Wright Mills about the place, who subscribed to the National Guardian or the muckraking I. These rapturous, sloganeering students were swept up into the whirlwind, inflamed by a feverish, idealistic conviction that the hour for action had arrived.Needless to say, some saw it differently, urging that the occupations upset the rightful order of institutional procedure and jeopardized the university’s special status as a much-needed enclave set apart from politics, war-making, and the like.King’s murder contributed to a decisive shift within the civil rights movement – from nonviolence and peaceful self-defense to Black Power, a militant demand for black freedom.The gym proved to be just one element of the university’s nefarious, exclusionary dealings in Morningside Heights, with its sanitization of the neighborhood and removal of undesirables from newly purchased residential buildings.Initially suspect of the level of commitment of white students, and with practical support offered by Harlem locals, these black students were, from the start, on a different trajectory than the other protesters.The “bust” has a clarifying effect on many who otherwise would have paid little attention to the world of politics around them.Todd Gitlin famously noted that “[w]hile the Right was occupying the heights of the political system, the assemblage of groups identified with the Left were marching on the English department.” The gym and the IDA were, of course, to a certain extent only pretexts, a spur to action. columbia human rights essay contest More generally, after the Free Speech protests at Berkeley in 1964, students’ realization of themselves as cogs in a faceless bureaucratic system, as personnel to be molded, became increasingly ubiquitous.Columbia students were part of a cohort of headstrong youngsters immersed in a set of subcultures that by 1968 had permeated deeply and were helping to cultivate in millions of people a sense of personal responsibility for institutional behavior.By 1968, in the shadow of a war that was pulling in hundreds of thousands of young American men, and only three weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Columbia University – so close to the center of the world’s media industries and even closer to the African American community of West Harlem – became one place where the academy’s plight during the Vietnam quagmire, and the culture wars of the era, were conspicuously played out.Through the maelstrom stumbled an incredulous, outdated, and painfully vulnerable university administration, ill equipped for the problem-solving tasks with which it suddenly was faced, accused of having its reputation tarnished by incestuous connections with the New York power elite and, more broadly, the nation’s establishment matrix.Dissent became protest, from protest to resistance, resistance was overtaken by confrontation, and then confrontation jumped to militancy. In his 2016 obituary for human rights attorney and activist Michael Ratner, one of the few Columbia Law School students who plunged into the protests of 1968, David Cole wrote: “Ratner knew that when you sue the powerful, you will often lose.Of protesting students, renowned historian and Columbia history professor Richard Hofstadter noted in 1968 that “to imagine that the best way to change a social order is to start by assaulting its most accessible centers of thought and study and criticism is not only to show a complete disregard for the intrinsic character of the university but also to develop a curiously self-destructive strategy for social change.” But for Columbia students, what better place to vent their anger?These people, wrote Greeman, “would never have dared to consider taking a position on the gym, of which they all disapproved, had it not been for the mass student pressure from below expressed through direct action.” That pressure came most vehemently from adaptive, swaggering twenty-year-old rebels who were learning as they went along – a bullheaded sliver of whom were drawn to the Bolshevik notion of the vanguard and the heroic guerrilla Che’s theory, to the cadre’s leadership of an armed insurrection.Richard Nixon, declaiming against anarchy and stumping for law and order, trumpeted Columbia ’68 as the first volley in attempts by a lunatic fringe to seize control of the nation’s campuses, while J.Whether aware of it or not, everyone active in the protests was showing one another, once the textbooks were put away and the classroom doors were sealed, how living through a historical moment could be an educational windfall, a potent form of vivification. Study Columbia’s student newspaper Spectator from 1965 onward and read about a centralized administration offering paper-thin promises and desperate to prevent dissent from upsetting its fund-raising efforts, alongside a marked acceleration of student protest and voice-raising, a drive toward transgression and extreme measures, the jettisoning of complacency, and the censuring of conformity: an expanding number of single-issue political groups operating on campus; provocative antiwar gatherings around New York involving Columbia students; the steady, sometimes reluctant abandonment of conventional, moderate tactics as seen through increasingly contentious campus rallies, including protests against the Reserve Officer Training Corps and recruitment by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Marines Corps; students involving themselves in community outreach in Harlem; civil rights activism and furor over the draft, and the prospect of conscription and the brutality of the Vietnam body count; demonstrations at the site of Columbia’s proposed gymnasium; heated student and faculty responses to the university’s heavy-handed purchasing of neighborhood buildings and subsequent evictions; and picketing at Columbia dining halls in support of better conditions for its workers. In October 1965, David Truman, then dean of Columbia College, spoke to an interviewer about student civil disobedience, declaring that “the circumstances under which such protest would be acceptable are extremely rare.” As with Berkeley in 1964, the battleground became one of free speech.This was a contest of ideas, a confluence of mismatched concerns making for an extraordinarily stimulating learning curve that no one had ever before experienced. But change could come only if workable channels of communications and possibilities for meaningful dialogue existed, and many vocal students felt that those who ruled Columbia had constructed a paternalistic, archaic culture of opaqueness.Almost overnight, liberal professors – convinced that the campus was a sanctuary to be protected at all costs – became, in the mind of radical students, a lost cause.The Role of the University in American Society In the final years of the sixties, Columbia University displayed in crisp focus the crisis of the liberal academy amid the cultural, racial, and political dramas of the time.More troubling was that several faculty members were consultants for the IDA, on the board of which Columbia’s president served, thus giving the university an appearance of connivance with the war.Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation used the events as a pretext to go after New Left organizations with added fervor.As the Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest stated in 1970, too many faculty appeared to the average freshman “more like corporation executives than cloistered scholars,” more committed to academic training that prepared students to fit the requirements of Cold War militarism than anything else.Fundamental questions were raised about the citizen’s ethical responsibility to counter laws and politics considered unjust or illegal. Where previously apathy was the standard, dissent thrived.It might be said that the efforts of most everyone at Columbia during those days were both legitimate and inappropriate, that everyone conducted themselves both honorably and improperly. The faculty, for example – only a small number of whom would have considered themselves radical – advanced itself as an honest broker but immediately lost its footing, revealing just how powerless it really was, and for the most part refused to take a genuine political stance.The doctrine of academic freedom prevented the university administration from openly opposing the pointless war being waged in Vietnan, even while many of its faculty and students – as well as President Grayson Kirk and Vice President David Truman – did so with mounting conviction.With the enduring absence of a monolithic student bloc, with pulses beating ever faster and a stunning lack of stability to the situation, with rival factions proliferating by the day, consensus and conciliation would never be easy to reach. By 1968, it was clear that students were becoming a vital and effective political force and that inflexible university administrators across the nation would be unwise to ignore calls for change.As Columbia’s unresponsive administration – controlled by businessmen-trustees and overseen by a dithering president – attempts to defuse the situation, as faculty meet and discuss the issues, as undergraduates opposed to the occupiers mobilize a raging reaction to their classmates’ rebellion, hundreds of New York police officers are assembling. columbia human rights essay contest This segregationist move recapitulated the wider struggle and mimicked larger structures, as articulated by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). columbia human rights essay contest




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