Columbia University Calls Columbus Day ‘Covert White Supremacy’

By Lucy Collins | October 5, 2020 | 5:01pm EDT
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- During a new mandatory racial sensitivity course, Columbia University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and Social Justice Programs used a graphic claiming that “Celebration of Columbus Day” was “covert white supremacy.”

 

In the graphic displayed during Columbia’s new Anti-Racism workshop, which is mandatory for all club presidents, a pyramid showing different forms of white supremacy listed “celebration of Columbus Day” as a form of “covert white supremacy.”

(Columbia University Office of Multicultural Affairs and Social Justice Programs)
(Columbia University Office of Multicultural Affairs and Social Justice Programs)

The new training was mandatory for all student club presidents and is being offered weekly via Zoom. If presidents fail to complete the training, their student group could lose funding and access to Columbia facilities. Columbia currently has over five hundred student groups and organizations.

Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College under a royal charter from King George II. The school was renamed following the Revolutionary War as Columbia to reflect the “patriotic fever” of the new nation. “Columbia” was a common nickname for colonial settlers and the root of this comes from Italian explorer Christopher Columbus.

Currently, Columbia University recognizes neither Columbus Day nor Indigenous People’s Day, unlike four of its fellow Ivy League schools that recognize the latter: Harvard, Brown, Cornell, and Princeton.

Jacquis Watters, associate director of Multicultural Affairs and Social Justice Programs, Columbia University.  (LinkedIn, screenshot)
Jacquis Watters, associate director of Multicultural Affairs and Social Justice Programs, Columbia University. (LinkedIn, screenshot)

In August, the University made the decision to rename Bard Hall because its namesake Samuel Bard (1742-1821) owned slaves. Bard founded the medical school, which was the first U.S. school to ever award the MD degree. Bard was George Washington’s personal doctor, as well as a pioneer in treating diphtheria.

A petition to rename the hall was successful after finding an advertisement issued by Bard offering a reward for a runaway slave.

President Lee Bollinger stated, “We all understand how careful we need to be in shaping the environment, symbolic as well as physical, in which we ask our students to live and to call home.”

Bollinger also informed students, “In June, I asked Interim Provost Ira Katznelson to convene a group to consider campus names and symbols associated with matters of race and racism. As they began to fashion a longer-term process to thoroughly review these matters, work that will continue as the academic year begins, the committee forwarded to me the unanimous recommendation on which I am acting.”

Currently, calls for Columbia to rename the entire institution are not widespread.

The Anti-Racism workshop focused mainly on anti-black and Hispanic violence despite the university being labelled as the most unsafe campus for Jewish students by the Algemeiner and despite the rise in antisemetic hate crimes in New York City. 

Three instances of swastikas drawn on walls were reported in a single residence hall last semester. Additionally, last week, Columbia University’s main undergraduate student councils voted to adopt a Divestment referendum from the state of Israel, in an attempt to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state.

A Columbia University professor's walls were vandalized and pained with swastikas. (Screenshot, Rya Inman / Columbia Daily Spectator)
A Columbia University professor's walls were vandalized and pained with swastikas. (Screenshot, Rya Inman / Columbia Daily Spectator)

“Dozens of antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents, including protests and walk-outs of events related to the Jewish state, have taken place at Columbia,” said the algemeiner.  “Pro-Israel students have reported feeling ‘very isolated’ on campus, in spite of the considerable resources the school has for its large Jewish community.”

Other forms of covert white supremacy included the phrase “Make America Great Again,” “Colorblindness,” “English-only initiatives,” and the “Bootstrap Theory.”  

CNS News contacted the instructor who ran the anti-racism workshop at Columbia University, Jacquis Watters, the associate director of Multicultural Affairs and Social Justice Programs, for comment. She did not respond before this story was posted. 

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