When I accepted the position of editorial page editor for 2018, I knew that our team would face the daunting task of commemorating the student leaders and activists that called for administrative change 50 years ago. Little did I know back in December that these final weeks of April would be characterized by student demonstrations and protests as well.
Columbia cannot shake its history and identity as an institution where groups of students are eager to demand change, so much so that it has become known as “the activist Ivy.”
While it has been easier to hear from current students on what it means to be an activist in 2018, with op-eds and responses detailing their experiences and calling other students to the fray, the task of recounting what it was like to navigate campus during the fateful week of April 23, 1968, is a separate beast.
Keeping in mind that accounts of history will remain incomplete for a myriad of reasons, whether intentional or not, we looked back to those who lived through the protests and to those who study and preserve its history to understand activism's importance to Columbia’s identity.
Columbia’s students are integral to this identity, and their efforts have the power to define what this campus will mean to those that follow after us.
Who knows, maybe 50 years from now, as another group of students takes their place at this university, they’ll look back at the tireless efforts of the campus activists we’ve seen on College Walk, in Lerner, and in Butler this week, and will similarly try to understand what life at Columbia was like in a different time, as we have endeavored to do.
All the best,
Editorial Page Editor