Spectrum | May. 18 11:39 am EST
Red Tape

Email asks seniors to use red tape for ‘sexual assault solidarity’ at commencement

Spectator received an email Sunday morning that was sent to students in the class of 2014, calling for students to place a piece of red tape on their caps during commencement exercises as “an act of solidarity” and to “demand justice and support for all survivors, even as a graduate of this institution.”

According to the email, there will be red tape distribution locations for students and faculty at each school’s Class Day and at the University Commencement. See the full email after the jump.

To the graduating students of Columbia’s Class of 2014,

This week, we celebrate all that we have accomplished at this University — and all we have endured. As you may know, this semester, students have demanded that the University take several important steps to reform a woefully inadequate set of services, policies, and procedures dealing with sexual violence that students face on campus.

Although we have been promised some reforms, there has been no significant change to our level of community safety, to the pain and trauma survivors must endure when they see their perpetrators on campus, to the rape culture that pervades this school.




As we prepare to walk across our stages and accept our diplomas, we cannot forget that the responses we’ve gotten remain insufficient and inadequate. The longer we wait for these changes to come about, the more our fellow students remains vulnerable to assault. It is our responsibility to leave a lasting mark on the community we have been a part of for several years.

We ask that you join us this week in an act of solidarity with survivors (your friends and peers), faculty who have shown support for this very important issue, and for the community members who have been hard at work at reforming campus life. By placing a piece of red tape on your cap (ideally parallel to the right side), you will demonstrate and signal to the University that you do not accept your degree lightly, that you understand the culture that they have been complicit in perpetuating, and that you will not stand for it, and that you demand justice and support for all survivors, even as a graduate of this institution.

Sexual violence, and all violence, should not be tolerated. By coming together this week, we will use our voices to assert that it will not be tolerated within these gates. Join us in this act of solidarity and support.


Your fellow 2014 graduates

P.S. Rolls of red tape will be passed around at the ceremonies for the four undergraduate schools (BC, CC, GS, and SEAS), as well as at University Commencement on Wednesday, May 21. If you would like to be a distributor, please contact (860) 371-8717 and/or (307) 277-0024. or show up at any of the distribution locations.

Red Tape Distribution Locations for Students & Faculty

Baccalaureate Service (All Schools) – Sunday, May 18, 7:30 – 8:30 a.m at (Sundial) (Baccalaureate begins at 9 a.m – St. Paul’s)

Barnard College Commencement – Sunday, May 18, 11:30 a.m.  - 1 p.m. Outside of Barnard 115th St. Gates. (Commencement Begins at 2:30 p.m. at Radio City).

School of General Studies Class Day – Monday, May 19, 7:30 – 9 a.m. Outside of Lerner Hall/Broadway Entrance (Class Day begins at 9 a.m.)

School of Engineering and Applied Science – Monday, May 19, 3:30 – 5 p.m.

 - Outside of Lerner Hall/Broadway Entrance (Class Day begins at 5 p.m.)

Columbia College Class Day – Tuesday, May 20, 8 – 9:30 a.m Outside of Lerner Hall/Broadway Entrance  (Class Day begins at 9:30 a.m.)

University Commencement (All Schools) – Wednesday, May 21. 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

3 Locations for Red Tape Distribution. 1) 115th and Broadway/Earl Hall Gates. 2) 120th & Broadway. 3) 120th and Amsterdam.




  1. alum • May 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm • Reply

    As someone who has been to many a Columbia graduations, this is a big mistake that you will regret. This is selfish and disrespectful to the graduates and families that have sacrificed and come from around the glob eto celebrate a few hours with a gamily member. Graduation is a celebratyion of the graduates, not about politics.

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    • For your information • May 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm • Reply

      Some graduates’ families are joining them in this by wearing red wristbands. And many of these graduates who are partaking in this are survivors of sexual assault. I’m really trying to figure out why it’s selfish for the graduates to wear red tape on their caps to their OWN class days and their OWN ceremonies, ceremonies at a University that has repeatedly failed them with its sexual assault adjudication process.

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      • anon • May 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm •

        Because as the above person said this is not the time or place for political statements or political activism. Students have 364 other days to do that. It is a celebration of the graduates. It is disrespectful. Would you have a rally at a wedding or a funeral?

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      • In response to anon • May 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm •

        Did you just compare a graduation ceremony to a funeral/wedding? Protesting at a funeral is, well, douchey. Protesting at a wedding is douche-y to the two people who are getting married, but if you decide to protest at your own wedding? I have no problem with that. And so I have no problem with students silently protesting at their own graduation. As a graduate, I am allowed to both attend my ceremony AND put a strip of red tape on my cap.

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  2. anon • May 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm • Reply

    You are wrong. It’s part of the me, me, me generation that what you have to say is more important than anything else. There are other people there with other things on their mind besides you and your agenda. Get over yourself. Grow up. You are not going to succeed in this world until you are respectful and listen to others for once in your life.

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  3. Anonymous • May 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm • Reply

    Get over your selfish me,me,me. You kids are acting stupid.

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  4. Karim • May 18, 2014 at 9:39 pm • Reply

    If a kid can put glitter on their cap, they can put red tape on it. It’s all self-expression.

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  5. From Across the Country • May 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm • Reply

    Listening to others (and by others, I assume you mean the administration) would effectively be telling rape victims to shut up and submit to the system, which failed. The students at Columbia are making a difference in a way that attracts national attention, and it’s working. Too often, changes don’t happen by polite requests. This is THEIR graduation, not yours, and they have the right to protest if they want in the way they think will get the change that is obviously needed. If you aren’t going to stand up to make the change, what business do you have criticizing how they do it?

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