Protest Against Whom?

The New York Times reported on a student protest that followed an unidentified racist hanging a noose on the office door of a teachers college professor at Columbia. The protest happened on Wednesday, one day after the noose was discovered on the professor's office door by a colleague. ABC News reports that the protest drew around 200 people including Columbia students that walked out of class and students from other New York colleges. My question is, a protest against whom or what? General racism in society?

The protest came only a day after the incident and everything I've read indicates that both Columbia and the NYPD are taking things seriously. Beyond cooperating with the NYPD to find the identity of the coward that hung the noose and expelling/firing the student/faculty member responsible, what else is Columbia responsible for? I couldn't find any criticism of the current Columbia administration's handling of the case.

There were some things that did catch my eye. From the Times article linked above:

“It’s like throwing a match on a haystack,” said Christien Tompkins, 21, a senior who is co-chairman of the United Students of Color Council. “This obviously really touched a nerve for a lot of folks.”

Mr. Tompkins was one of about two dozen students who met with Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, to discuss the case yesterday afternoon.

At that meeting, Mr. Tompkins said, students have used the noose as a point of departure to talk about other issues, including Columbia’s plans to expand into adjacent neighborhoods.


At a separate meeting, 600 Teachers College students and faculty members gathered to air their own grievances before Susan H. Fuhrman, the president of Teachers College, and other administrators.


Dr. Fuhrman said yesterday that she would work to retain and recruit more minority faculty members, and offer students more scholarships.

“There’s nothing good about this incident, this is horrible,” she said. “But we should be doing this talking, and if it takes this thing to make us do this, so be it.”

The Times piece mentioned that the targeted professor is involved in a lawsuit with another professor at Columbia. So, when (most likely) an angry colleague does something reprehensible and inexcusable to a coworker, immediate termination of employment and criminal and civil charges aren't enough? The University of Columbia itself must up its minority hiring quota and avoid expanding?

I sympathize with the targeted professor, who shouldn't have the threat of violence hung on her office door, but the peripheral demands of the protestors, tied into broader Progressive concerns, just don't carry a strong enough connection to the original incident for me to take all of the protestors seriously in light of people like Mr. Tompkins using the incident "as a point of departure to talk about other issues." If it takes all of a day for the co-chairman of the United Students of Color Council at Columbia to use the incident as a springboard to talk about the University's proposed expansion among other issues, it brings into question the sincerity of some of the protestors when the original incident is deserving of outrage.

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