We write to notify you that we are postponing our Volume 11 Symposium in support of the Graduate Workers Union (GWU-UAC 2110) historic strike for better treatment by their employer, Columbia University. The three-day event, “Strengthened Bonds: Abolishing the Child Welfare System and Re-Envisioning Child Well-Being,” was set to begin this evening. With a keynote by Professor Dorothy Roberts, the event was set to include over nearly 70 panelists and had attracted over 1,600 registrants, including a mention in TIME Magazine.
In the last two days, we learned that it was the Union’s position to prioritize postponing all Columbia University events during the strikes. We have also been contacted by many of those same panelists, including Professor Roberts, concerned that holding the event now would be detrimental to the ongoing strike and would run counter to the goals and ideals of the movement to end family policing.
We agree. We wholeheartedly support the demands of the union, including the demand for childcare. We ask that you support the ongoing strike in whatever way you can, including by donating to the strike hardship fund. We stand in solidarity with the union, and we will not be crossing the picket line.
We will reschedule this event after the strike has concluded. We sincerely thank you for your ongoing support of this event, especially knowing that many panelists and registrants have organized their time around this three-day period.
You can find the letter that we sent to everyone who registered for the event below. We look forward to joining with all of you after the strike has concluded.
Nicolás Quaid Galván, Editor-in-Chief
Jacob Elkin, Managing Online and Symposium Editor
Volume 11, Columbia Journal of Race and Law
We write to explain our decision to postpone the Strengthened Bonds symposium. Our goal is to
reschedule once the strike has ended and we are able to identify a date that allows most of our panelists to participate.
The Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC)-UAW Local 2110 have been negotiating with Columbia
University (CU) for the past two years to finalize a contract. In April 2020, the GWC authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike to achieve a fair contract. Last week the GWC went on strike. Here is a link to the GWC https://columbiagradunion.org/.
Yesterday we learned that the GWC was asking all events at any part of CU to honor the strike. We also received emails in the morning from several of our panelists urging us to honor the strike. We reached out to the GWC to solicit their position and advice. They responded with several steps we could take to support the GWC, prioritizing postponement. We then met with Prof. Roberts to discuss options. We determined with her that we wanted to secure the input of all the panelists on the best course to take given the work and planning that had gone into the symposium. Last night we wrote to the almost 70 panelists to ascertain their positions. The overwhelming response was to honor the strike by postponing the symposium. We are also including a link to the GWC Hardship Fund if you would like to contribute: https://www.gofundme.com/f/solidarity-with-columbia-academic-student-workers.
We understand that postponing will be disruptive for many of you (over 1600 world-wide!) who made arrangements to be available to participate in the symposium this evening and over the next two days. We also believe that the goals of abolishing the current family regulation system are consistent and support the goals of the GWC to create a fair, equitable, anti-racist workplace. We are committed to dismantling the conditions and beliefs of family regulation that have resulted in the surveillance, disruption and destruction of millions of families over the last two centuries; conditions and beliefs that support structural racism, white supremacy, and the criminalization of poverty.
We hope that every one of you will be able to join us when the symposium is rescheduled to honor
Professor Roberts’ momentous work and to continue to do the hard work together to create a society that supports, nourishes, and strengthens the bonds of families, tribes and communities to create child wellbeing.
Jacob Bryce Elkin
Managing Online and Symposium Editor
Nicolás Quaid Galván
Columbia Journal of Race and Law
Professor Emerita of Law
American University Washington College of Law
Jane M. Spinak
Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law
Columbia Law School