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Over 1,000 Columbia University Students on Tuition Strike, Demanding Pandemic Concessions

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Students at the prestigious Columbia University are demanding the Ivy League school lower their tuition costs amid financial hardship and new virtual classroom conditions prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

What We Know:

  • More than 1,000 students at the New York institution went on strike on the day tuition payments were due for the semester. Due to the ongoing pandemic, students believe it is unfair for full tuition prices to be required of them as they aren’t even allowed to attend class on campus.
  • According to NBC News, students accused the school of demonstrating a “flagrant disregard for initiatives democratically supported within the community.” The striking students are asking the school to lower tuition by at least 10 percent and to increase financial aid.
  • In the letter to the administration, students also asked the school to end its expansion into and gentrification of West Harlem, defund its university police force, and bargain in good faith with campus unions. After doing some research, students have learned that the university has profited significantly during the pandemic, as its $11 billion endowment grew by $300 million in the stock market. Despite this, Columbia is providing little additional relief to students, the strikers claim.
  • The University’s website explains that an estimated $58,920 is required by students for one academic year, totaling more than $80,000 when fees, room and board, books, and travel are factored in. Both undergraduate and graduate students are participating in the strike.
  • Matthew Gamero, a sophomore at the university who is participating in the strike, said he feels as though the school is using him to make a profit. “Online college has made me understand that Columbia does not care for its students.” He adds that he wants the school to be held accountable for its leaders’ decisions, for students to have more of a voice in how it is run, and for the community that surrounds the campus to benefit from the strike. “This movement is just as much ours as it is theirs.”

This strike comes after Williams College in Massachusetts announced that it will lower tuition by 15 percent for the 2020-21 academic year. They were also inspired by their colleagues studying in the United Kingdom, where some students have begun withholding rent for on-campus housing. Students at the University of Chicago also formed a strike in the Spring, when about 200 students withheld their tuition.

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