Columbia Justice Lab Statement in Support of Students

April 26, 2024

The following is a statement by staff in the Columbia University Justice Lab. We do not speak for the entire Lab, in which there is a diversity of opinions. However, we feel that recent events require us to speak out against University actions.

The Justice Lab at Columbia University affirms the values of human dignity and dialogue which form the foundation of community safety and thriving. As such, we condemn the recent decisions of Columbia University to invite the New York Police Department on to campus to arrest students engaged in peaceful protest, and we object to the suspension of those students.

The invitation of police on to campus on April 18 in this episode not only undermined peaceful free expression of individual students, it also damaged the University as an institutional domain of free inquiry and debate. This decision has triggered widespread police activity on campuses across the country, expanding the scope of criminalization and incarceration that the Justice Lab seeks to eliminate.

We further condemn Columbia’s decision to abruptly suspend the students who were arrested. These actions violated students’ basic rights to due process and undermined the University’s mission to support the creativity and development of young people. In short, Columbia failed to honor their dignity. 

We urge Columbia to reject police intervention to suppress peaceful protest, to restore the full status of suspended students, and allow them to continue their studies. It is time for the University to put aside the tactics of retribution and punishment, to foster peace, community, and safety on campus by upholding the values of human dignity and dialogue.


Bruce Western, Justice Lab Director; Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice

Ariana Andriichuk, Post-Doctoral Research Scholar, Square One Project

Lindsay Bing, Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Kendra Bradner, Director, Probation and Parole Reform Project

Lael Chester, Director, Emerging Adult Justice Project

Jaclyn Davis, Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Shaina Evans, Project Coordinator, Square One Project

Katharine Huffman, Director, Square One Project

Lisette Hughes, Racial Justice and Abolition Democracy Curriculum Director 

Inica Kotasthane, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Rachel Krul, Project Coordinator, Square One Project

Paulette Louissaint, Senior Coordinator

Julie Manoharan, Director of Operations and Strategy

Lisa McAllister, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis

Sukyi McMahon, Director of the Collaborative on Reckoning and Justice

Vivian Nixon, Writer in Residence, Square One Project

Jasmin Sandelson, Research Manager, Square One Project

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow

Alford Young III, Research Assistant