Let Columbia Students Take Leaves of Absence and End the Student Contribution




This email campaign supports our petition for Columbia University to change its undergraduate leave of absence policies. If you haven't already, please add your name and share with your friends, family, and alumni you know.

Columbia has shifted all classes for the fall semester online.

We are devastated, not just for the students who were planning to be on-campus, but also for how little progress the US has made against COVID-19. We respect the administration’s decision to make all instruction remote, as it will likely reduce case transmission and make the Morningside Heights and Harlem community safer this fall.

But moving all classes online without waiving penalties for taking a gap semester/year is unacceptable. Online learning is fundamentally inequitable. The students who most need to take time off due to unstable home situations are predominantly on financial aid and/or first-generation, low-income. So in our last email to Columbia administrators, including President Bollinger, Provost Katznelson, and Deans Valentini, Boyce, and Hollibaugh, we asked them to at least guarantee housing post-leave for students on financial aid.

They didn’t budge. To quote Dean Hollibaugh, “We’re sorry if you misunderstood our reply as part of an ongoing discussion. In our previous response, our intent was to provide you and your classmates with more information about some of the principles behind Columbia’s policies. These institutional policies remain in place.”

We need your help.

Columbia is hosting all classes online, charging the same tuition compared with previous years, and refusing to let students take a leave of absence without loss of guaranteed housing. After weeks of confusion, Columbia Financial Aid has further clarified that the $4,000 per semester “allowance” is not a stipend, but merely factored into student expenses when disbursing aid.

This is unacceptable. But without your pressure, they won’t change anything.

Please join our email campaign.