Statement in support of the Student Workers strike at Columbia University
Our conference is only a day away. Unfortunately, as many of you know, AMPRAW also happens to be concomitant with a strike organized by the Columbia Graduate Students Union, with the aim of asking the administration for better wages, better medical coverage, and fair treatment of cases of harassment and discrimination.
The timing is unfortunate, to say the least. Had we known in advance, we would have done everything we could to make sure the conference would not entail crossing the picket line -- by finding a non-Columbia space, for instance. Unfortunately, the timing and our inexperience with conference organizing prevented us from doing so. We realize this is a most difficult situation to navigate for all of us; nevertheless, it is important for us to explain our reasons behind going ahead with the conference, and perhaps to suggest ways in which the conference’s spirit might even align with that of the strike.
Firstly, this conference has been in the making for almost two years now. Valeria and I already had to postpone it by a year due to COVID. Secondly, AMPRAW entails the work and cooperation of a network that includes young scholars from all over the world, and whose work and efforts would have been very disrupted by a sudden cancellation. We felt most strongly that we should honor this work.
Moreover, AMPRAW aims at creating a dynamic and collaborative environment that effectively counters the University’s intense efforts at making us and our work feel precarious, alone and unheard (and make no mistake -- a lot was done on the part of the administration to hinder the organization of this conference). This is why we believe that a shared sense of solidarity animates this conference as well as the strike. We reiterate our solidarity, as co-organizers, with the Columbia students workers who are striking against the administration’s cruel practices. We also encourage all of you - especially those of you who enjoy a certain degree of security and influence - to use AMPRAW as a platform from which to amplify whatever message of support you’d like to communicate.
We are happy to discuss any perplexities and questions that you may have, and will respect and understand whatever choice you make, regarding both your participation and your willingness to speak directly about the current strike.