Tessa Majors murder could thaw icy relations between cops, Barnard students
The murder of Barnard freshman Tessa Majors could thaw decades of icy relations between cops and students on the Upper West Side campus and its sister school, Columbia University.
Students at the liberal colleges — who have long decried undercover police presence on campus and NYPD enforcement at protests — have begun calling for more cops in the wake of last week’s shocking murder in adjacent Morningside Park.
“We need more policing for safety,” said Andrew Lotharian, 22, a Columbia University political science major. “My friends and I see people who are definitely not Columbia students smoking I-don’t-know-what on campus. There was a guy who had his genitals out in front of the freshmen dorms.
“In the early 2000’s Columbia warned students that Morningside Park wasn’t safe. But then they stopped . . . I’m from here, so I know where to walk. People come here from other places and they think everywhere is safe, but that’s not always the case. If anything there should be more policing.”
Anti-law enforcement sentiment bubbled up at Barnard as recently as April, when students accused security of racially profiling a black student who tried to enter the library without ID and was pinned to the ground by campus cops in a takedown caught on video.
“That lead to a lot of calls to decrease policing on campus,” Columbia student Danielle Mikaelian, 21, said Saturday.
Mikaelian, however, said she welcomes cops on campus.
“I care about my safety and I believe there are methods of policing without discrimination,” she said.
There hasn’t been an arrest of a student protester at Columbia since 1996, but that hasn’t stopped students from clashing with police at campus demonstrations.
Tension brewed at campus protests in 2014 and 2015, when students were unnerved after dozens of cops showed up.
“It speaks to a trend of over-militarization of our campus against students,” one student told the Columbia Spectator in 2015. “The fact that they are mobilizing against students so frequently is scary.”
In that incident, the university sided with students and said in a statement that they “immediately requested [the NYPD] depart.”
Mayor de Blasio announced additional officers will be stationed in Morningside Heights following the stabbing on Wednesday night.
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