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Students and residents at Columbia University gathered to protest the university's role in gentrification on Sept. 22, 2022. (Photo by Scarlet Sappho | CC BY-SA 4.0)

Protestors gathered at Columbia University last week to protest the university’s gentrification of Harlem, N.Y. and the privatization of public housing. 

The protest, which aimed to call attention to issues surrounding Columbia's increasing presence in Harlem, was co-organized by the United Front Against Displacement and two Columbia student organizations, the Housing Equity Project and Student Worker Solidarity

Columbia students, UFAD leaders, and Harlem residents gave speeches voicing their concerns about Columbia’s recent encroachments on Harlem, according to The Columbia Spectator.

Some of UFAD’s demands addressed the controversies surrounding the newly opened Manhattanville campus for Columbia Business School, the eviction of the Red Balloon Learning Center in West Harlem, and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs course titled “Co-Designing Smart Cities,” the latter of which was the subject of a viral Twitter thread written last week by Bronx resident @AchmatX. 

The course has been described by students as "working to kind of solve a problem that this school created itself," according to the Spectator

“One of our demands is that [Columbia University] use their power and influence to make a public, strongly-worded statement saying they oppose the privatization of public housing,” UFAD representative Chantelle Schultz said, according to the Spectator.

Similar protests against gentrification have taken place at Penn, including two in recent weeks.

In late August, over 100 protestors interrupted Penn President Liz Magill's speech during Convocation, demanding Penn "Stop Penn-trification." Two students are now facing disciplinary action for their alleged participation in the protest.

Fossil Free Penn is currently protesting on College Green, leading an "indefinite" encampment that began Sept. 14. In a press release, FFP clarified their three core demands from the University: to divest from fossil fuels, preserve the University City Townhomes, and pay PILOTs — payments in lieu of taxes — to Philadelphia public schools.