Critical Currents – Teach-in Walking Tour (The Other Wall St)

October 14th, 2011
Columbia University/The Other Wall St

Text of the pamphlet

> Critical Currents
Teach-in Walking Tour
     —–what connects Wall St to 116th?
note: #^1 = footnote 1, etc, see end

We are here to explore the connections from Wall Street to 116th

Questions for Reflection:
What is my responsibility here?
How do I identify myself as a Columbia Student and do I accept the associations that come with that?
Do I know where my tuition money goes?
Do I know what my institution is implicated in?
How am I implicated by my institution?
Do I know what my professors do?
Do my professors have have conflict of interest?
What keeps this school running?
Who else is making my existence possible here?
Do I know who cleans my bathroom?
What does my education mean to me?
How do I define education?
What is the purpose of education for me?
Having a Columbia degree gives me power. What will I do with it? What am I learning about?
Why does my Columbia degree give me power?
How am I privileged?
What is the value of my education?
How can I evaluate an education?
Why did I choose to go here?
How is Columbia involved in the Financial Crisis?
Why is Columbia expanding? Why amidst the financial crisis?
Where is Columbia getting the money?
What is a Global University?
Why is President Debora Spar on the board of Goldman Sachs?
What does my university produce?
Why has the Earth Institute taken money from Coca-Cola?#^1
Why does Lee Bollinger work for the NY Fed?#^2
Why was Lee Bollinger’s house renovated with $23 million dollars?
How am I going to pay back my loans?
Where did Lee Bollinger get all his money?
Why did Lee Bollinger make 1.7 million last year?#^3
Who wrote my econ textbook?

to the Barnard Gates
Why am I here?

Because Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, is invited to come speak here as a role model#^4, but I don’t think the head of the investment bank that invested in predatory loans and bet against those loans – even against whole countries – is a responsible citizen.# ^5

Because Dean Debora Spar is a director of Goldman Sachs#^6, one of the biggest perpetrators of predatory lending that led to the debt crisis.

Because the curriculum doesn’t appropriately address issues of power and privilege.

Because Barnard administrators forced a non-transparent de-facto tuition hike, citing dishonest reasons, that makes part-time student pay full-time costs and that could cost me $30,000 more.#^7
Because of the weird definition, use, and identification of “womanhood.”

to the Business School
Why am I here?

Because of the revolving door between higher education, government, and the financial industry, and the huge conflicts of interest that professors here have.

Because Glenn Hubbard became the Dean in 2004, after serving as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President George W. Bush. He is a supply-side economist and was instrumental in the design of the 2003 Bush Tax cuts which provided huge tax breaks for the richest citizens. In 2008 the economy collapsed, in part because of his work. I’ve seen him in Inside Job. Why is he still dean?#^8

Because of how Columbia affects the discourse that controls the US government’s economic policies. Business school professors championed deregulation, opening for investment banks the opportunity to purposefully lie to increase their profit while creating a debt crisis. I am slated to spend my life paying back.  

Because this ideology at the business school is spread like its a social science when in fact it is only the perpetuation of a destructive and greedy system. GDP is not an accurate measure of a country’s success!

Because professors get paid by corporations to write whatever will serve in their interests, and then it gets Columbia rubber stamp.

What is the business school teaching its students? Let’s have some transparency!

There is a quote when you walk inside the lobby on your right, from one of the deans of the Business school. It essentially describes the BP oil disaster of 2010 as a marketing crisis (rather than an ecological, not to mention a social, one). What kind of university could so brazenly advocate such an attitude of irresponsibility? It’s same kind of irresponsibility which has wrecked the global economy, and continues to wreck the planet every day.

to President Bollinger’s House
Why am I here?

Because there’s a lack of transparency in the Columbia administration.

Because President Bollinger gets paid 1.7 million dollars in a year, and he was appointed Chairman of the NY Fed to represent the public.#^9&10 Most of the public does not make a million dollars in a year, nor does it run an institution dependent on Wall St money. Would someone dependent on Wall St money vote for the public, or for the money?

Why is Columbia expanding? Why is Columbia expanding during a recession? Where is the $7 billion dollar budget for Manhattanville coming from? It may be too late to stop the expansion but it’s not too late to do it better–more respectfully. We can create a transparent accountability mechanism to make sure we create the jobs Bollinger promised. We can work together with the Harlem community board instead of forcing their hand. Instead of paying $300,000 to the Empire State Development Corporation to declare Harlem blighted, we could’ve given $200,000 to Floridita so they can eliminate the asbestos in the building into which Columbia forced them to move.#^11

Because – what is a global university? Why isn’t a Local University a good thing to be?


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