Columbia University Students Stage Tuition Strike

Angered over increased financial burdens, a move to online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what they call a “flagrant disregard for initiatives democratically supported within the community,” more than 1,000 Columbia University students have gone on tuition strike, refusing to make required payments that were due to the school last week. 

According to NBC News reporter Ben Kesslen, students at the New York City Ivy League school have made a sweeping list of demands and are “asking the school to lower tuition by at least 10% and to increase financial aid.” Kesslen said the protesting students have also asked the school to “end its expansion into and gentrification of West Harlem, defund its university police force and bargain in good faith with campus unions.”

Students are especially incensed that while the tuition at the school hasn’t changed despite the ongoing financial crisis the coronavirus has placed on the country, Columbia’s reported endowment — which is estimated at more than $11 billion — continues to grow. Kesslen said the university is reported to have made more than $300 million in gains amidst the ongoing pandemic.

“Online college has made me understand that Columbia does not care for its students,” Matthew Gamero, a sophomore studying political science and history told NBC. 

Gamero is not alone in his anger towards the school. While more than 1,000 students have withheld tuition, more than 4,300 of the school’s 30,000 students have signed the petition requesting change within the academic institution.

The tuition strike was primarily organized by Columbia’s campus chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America, in partnership with a number of other student groups. Kesslen reported that “students at the University of Chicago staged a similar strike in the spring, when about 200 students withheld their tuition.”

CollegeVine has reported that Columbia University has a fairly diverse undergraduate student body, consisting of 33.9% whites, 16.5% Asians, 6.7% Black and 14% Hispanic or Latino. 


D.I. Fast Facts


Cost of attending Columbia University as an undergraduate for one academic year. That figure jumps to more than $80,000 when room, board, travel, books and other fees are factored in.
NBC News



Amount Williams College in Massachusetts lowered tuition by for the 2020-2021 academic year, as a result of the pandemic.
NBC News

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.



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