Affirming Columbia’s Commitment to an Inclusive Community

December 10, 2018

Columbia’s undergraduate deans have issued the message below denouncing a racially charged incident that took place on campus yesterday morning. As described in their message, the footage online includes painful language directed toward students of color in our community.  

Statements of white racial superiority conflict with the University’s core value of inclusivity as well as the educational work and research that take place on our campuses.  

Yet even with the many opportunities we have to build bridges across differences, we have seen public declarations of hostility and intolerance both in our own community and, increasingly, in our nation. Comments of this sort cut against core values of our community, even when they are within someone’s rights to express. 

Against this backdrop, it is also important to restate in the strongest terms Columbia’s deep commitment to a community and a living and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender and other aspects of identity.

Recognizing that recent events of this kind have made many in our community feel less secure, University Life is in the process of creating a working group on bias incidents as a part of Columbia’s Inclusion and Belonging Task Force. We encourage everyone who strives for a community that supports all within it to join us in this work and share your ideas.

Please know that there are University resources available to you if you would like to speak with someone:

Morningside Campus: Counseling and Psychological Services

Medical Center Campus: Mental Health Services

The Office of the University Chaplain offers faith-based support and spiritual counseling

If you have a safety concern or want to report a potential bias incident on campus, Columbia University Public Safety is available:
Morningside Campus – 212-854-5555
Medical Center Campus – 212-305-7979

And reports about any concerning incident can be made at the “Report an Incident” button at the top of University Life’s website:

Please don't hesitate to contact your dean of students, any of the above resources, or the Office of University Life ([email protected]).

With strong support for all in our community,

Suzanne B. Goldberg
Executive Vice President for University Life

Below is the message sent to the Columbia undergraduate community:

Denouncing Racism on Campus | Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018

Dear Undergraduate Students,

We write to you to unequivocally denounce a deeply disturbing racially charged incident involving Columbia undergraduates that took place in front of Butler Library and JJ’s Place early this morning.

Many of you have heard about or seen the alarming footage online, which includes painful language directed toward students of color in our community. Although we cannot comment on the proceedings, this incident is already under investigation by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, and we want to assure you that it will be investigated thoroughly, beginning with interviews of witnesses.

We are alarmed at the rise of incidents of racism and hate speech in our world today. It is more important than ever that we continually demonstrate our core values and restate our commitment to a diverse, inclusive community on campus. At Columbia, we stand firmly against white supremacist language and violence. As we said last week, our community will not waver in its support for those of any faith, race, gender, sexual orientation, background or identity.

We understand this may be a difficult time for you and your classmates. Members of our on-call team began to provide individual support as soon as we learned of the incident. If you need support this evening, please reach out to your RA, who will connect you to additional resources as necessary.

All undergraduate students are invited to an open reflection space tomorrow night, Monday, December 10, 6:00-8:00 p.m. in Lerner Hall 505, hosted by Multicultural Affairs, for students to be in community with each other. Additional areas of support will be announced as we are able to plan.

Our collective work toward peace, respect and understanding must continue, both within our community and society at large.


Mary C. Boyce
Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Lisa Rosen-Metsch
Dean of the School of General Studies

James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education