Events & Programs

Program on Columbia Residence Halls and Histories of Racism and Enslavement

In July 2020, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger called for all parts of Columbia to "challenge racism, its systems, and its consequences."  Columbia began a University-wide review, one area of which involves symbols and representations on campus -- particularly how the geography and history of the campus are experienced by those who live, work, study, and visit here.

From the names on the buildings – including enslavers such as John Jay and Samuel Bard – to largely forgotten incidents of racial violence, such as a 1924 cross burning in protest of a Black student resident — Columbia’s residence halls embody complex connections to histories of enslavement and racism.

In the coming year, a pilot project facilitated by the Libraries is planned for the installation of historical markers in select residence halls on campus to commemorate and discuss these events. 

This event features students, faculty, and staff involved in this work giving short presentations of our latest research findings followed by a discussion of proposals.


We would like to hear members of the Columbia community about how they experience the histories of racism and enslavement in the built environment on our campuses, ideas for how these histories can be acknowledged in visible ways, and expressions of interest in assisting with this project, through historical research, art of design aspects for exhibits and displays, or community outreach.  The survey may be answered anonymously.  Please share your input with us by May 27, 2022.