3. There was a Columbia protest over a gym in Morningside Park

Proposed plans for Morningside Gym at Columbia University
Plans for the Morningside Gym. Image via WikiCU, user Tao tan

In 1960, Columbia University proposed the construction of a new gym in nearby Morningside Park. Although proposed as a way of beautifying the park, the gym sparked a huge student protest which temporarily shut down Columbia. The proposed gym included two doors, one for Harlem community residents, who were predominantly Black, and one for Columbia students, who were predominantly white. This, along with the involvement of professors in weapons development during the Vietnam War, led to the 1968 Columbia protests in part led by Students for a Democratic Society and Students for Afro-American Society.

The proposed initiative was deemed “Gym Crow” since many people viewed its design as a way to circumvent the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These protests led to the occupation of Hamilton Hall, tension between SDS and SAS, and ultimately the NYPD suppression of protestors. Adminstrators canceled all plans for the gym and terminated all ties with weapons research for the Vietnam War. Instead of this gym, Columbia built an underground fitness center by the north of campus.