A Columbia University student was seen on video filmed early Sunday morning approaching a group of students of color and yelling, ‘White people are the best thing to ever happen to the world,” and “We invented the modern world.”
The student has been identified by the Columbia Spectator as Julian von Abele, a Columbia College sophomore studying physics.
He followed the group of students from outside of Butler Library to JJ’s Place, a Columbia University dining hall, according to the Spectator, while continuing to “berate them with racist and white supremacist comments.”
— Aala (@aalanasir) December 9, 2018
“We built the modern world,” von Abele says in the video of the incident shared on social media. Someone asks “Who?” and he responds, “Europeans. We invented science and industry and you want to tell us to stop because, ‘oh my God, we’re so bad.’”
“We saved billions of people from starvation. We built modern civilization,” von Abele continues. “F— yeah white men. We’re white men and we did everything. Look, I don’t hate other people, I just love white men.”
Columbia University response to Julian von Abele, other recent incidents
Undergrad deans at Columbia University denounced the “racially-charged incident” in a statement released Monday.
“The footage online includes painful language directed toward students of color in our community,” the statement reads. “Statements of white racial superiority conflict with the University’s core value of inclusivity as well as the educational work and research that take place on our campuses.”
One student who first shared the video on Twitter responded to Columbia’s comment by writing online that, “Actually, by teaching a Eurocentric core curriculum in which students study the modern world through the lens of solely western societies, you are perpetuating the white supremacy that occurred on campus. I appreciate the tweeting, but it’s time to diversify the core.”
This isn’t the first incident on the Manhattan college campus that may make some members of the school community feel uncomfortable or unsafe. In November, a Columbia University professor’s office was spray-painted with swastikas. In Oct. 2017, Columbia students protested events featuring far-right speakers and then faced disciplinary action for “disruption,” prompting students to hold a “F*** White Supremacy” event this past April.
After this most recent incidents, officials said in a statement that Columbia University will create a working group on bias incidents as part of the school’s Inclusion and Belonging Task Force.
The school shared contact information for on-campus counseling and mental health services, as well, and said that the incident is “already under investigation by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards” and that it will be “investigated thoroughly, beginning with interviews of witnesses.”
Some members of the Columbia University community are working to hold the administration and Julian von Abele accountable.
The Columbia University Black Students’ Organization described the von Abele incident on Facebook, writing that he “verbally attacked Black Columbia students and followed them. Apparently after this encounter, he continued to harass several students and Public Safety did nothing to help or protect the students when they were contacted.This came after he forcibly grabbed a Black woman and asked Black women if they liked to date white men, according to several individuals.”
The Black Students’ Organization held a board meeting on Sunday to put together a concrete timeline of the incident and to plan steps they can take. The group aims to “have a plan of what we want to come from this incident both if administration does and doesn’t go our way.”