By Jacob Shapiro
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 7, 2007
As Columbia moves forward with its plan to expand into Manhattanville, the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification has placed itself in the middle of the heated debate between the administration and the Harlem residents opposed to the plan.
The students who are involved with SCEG attempt to educate fellow Columbia students on the pitched arguments surrounding the expansion plan. They also see their role as projecting the voice of the community onto Columbia’s campus—a place, they argue, where it is not necessarily heard.
“We see ourselves as representing the community’s beliefs to the administration,” SCEG President Julie Schneyer, BC ’08, said. “We look to the demands of the community.”
While SCEG believes that the administration is out of touch with residents’ concerns, the group recognizes the need for Columbia’s expansion.
“We certainly don’t want to be seen as anti-Columbia-getting-what-it-needs,” said Schneyer. “We just want to make sure that they are doing it with accountability and with a sense of responsibility as a developer.”
SCEG hopes to continue hosting community-student dinners and leading walking tours throughout the proposed expansion zone. And while the administration has met with students from SCEG, their ultimate goal is to increase the number of meetings between the administration and the community.
As Columbia moves ahead with its plans, SCEG vows to remain the voice of the community throughout the process.