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Dear readers,

This past academic year has seen changes of unprecedented nature. Ending the fall semester with the tragic loss of Barnard first-year Tessa Majors, we plunged into another semester only to have to evacuate campus and transition to remote learning as the world battled with the COVID-19 pandemic. The events of these months—both at the University and across the nation—will be documented as pivotal events in history for years to come.

Throughout this time, we have striven to show how universities and colleges hold more power than just that within the realm of academia—they are capable of impacting thousands of people beyond just the walls of their campuses. As students, staff, administrators, investors, and West Harlem residents continue to grapple with Columbia’s global impact as an institution, we at Spectator will continue to critically engage with institutional practices and shine a light on betrayals of public trust by Columbia.

Though at first glance, Columbia seems to be a predominantly academic and intellectual space, the events of this year demonstrate that there are many more facets of a multi-billion dollar institution that remain unexplored. As such, we also made the critical decision this year to expand our coverage of Columbia’s relationship with the community with pieces that examine how historical factors—such as the exclusion of low-income Black residents from Morningside Heights—have lasting impacts on healthcare resources, public education, and more for West Harlem residents. What happens during a public health crisis when the only hospital in West Harlem is located in a neighborhood founded on anti-Blackness? While students, faculty, and administrators scrambled to leave campus, how does the University ensure the safety of the essential workers who helped those populations get home?

We invite you to take a look back on the stories that shaped a turning point in Columbia’s history.

Karen Xia

Editor in Chief, President

Shubham Saharan

Managing Editor, Vice President

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