A white Columbia University student was caught on video going on a racist rant about white people being “the best thing that ever happened to the world,” during a tirade directed at students of color on the New York City university’s campus. Video of the incident was posted on Twitter on December 9 and quickly went viral. According to the Columbia Daily Spectator, the man in the video has been identified as Julian von Abele.
According to @aalanasir, the Twitter user and Columbia student who posted the video, the incident happened early Sunday morning. “Disappointed, but not surprised,” she wrote about the video. The Spectator reports that von Abele followed the group of underclassmen students, who were primarily black, from the Butler Library to JJ’s Place restaurant while screaming at them.
The students said on social media that von Abele continued to harass and follow other students and public safety was called, but they did nothing to stop him.
“Many of you have heard about or seen the alarming footage online, which includes painful language directed toward students of color in our community. Although we cannot comment on the proceedings, this incident is already under investigation by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, and we want to assure you that it will be investigated thoroughly, beginning with interviews of witnesses,” a statement from members of the Columbia University administration said.
Von Abele has not responded to requests for comment from multiple media outlets, including Heavy and the Spectator. You can watch the video below and learn more about the incident and von Abele.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Von Abele Can be Heard Yelling at the Minority Students ‘We Invented the Modern World’ & ‘I Love Myself & I Love White People’
Julian von Abele is accused of harassing and yelling racist and white supremacist statements at a group of minority students on the Columbia University campus on December 9. You can watch the video of von Abele above.
In the video, von Abele spreads his arms out and says to the students, who were mostly black, “We built the modern world … Europeans built the modern world. We invented science and industry, and you want to tell us to stop because, ‘oh my God we’re so bad.'”
Von Abele says in the video, “we invented the modern world. We saved billions of people from starvation. We built modern civilization.” An increasingly irate and loud von Abele then said, while swinging his arms around, “The white people are the best thing to ever happen to the world.”
His voice getting hoarse and while jumping in the air, von Abele then yelled, “I love myself and I love white people. F*ck yeah white people. F*ck yeah white men. We’re white men, we did everything. I don’t hate other people, I just love white men, I love white men.”
2. Columbia Said ‘Statements of White Racial Superiority Conflict With the University’s Core Value of Inclusivity’
In a statement from Columbia University Executive Vice President for University Life Suzanne Goldberg, the university said, “Columbia’s undergraduate deans have issued the message below denouncing a racially charged incident that took place on campus yesterday morning. As described in their message, the footage online includes painful language directed toward students of color in our community.”
Goldberg added, “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.
Yet even with the many opportunities we have to build bridges across differences, we have seen public declarations of hostility and intolerance both in our own community and, increasingly, in our nation. Comments of this sort cut against core values of our community, even when they are within someone’s rights to express.”
Goldberg listed several university resources where students could talk about the incident.
“Against this backdrop, it is also important to restate in the strongest terms Columbia’s deep commitment to a community and a living and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender and other aspects of identity,” Goldberg said. “Recognizing that recent events of this kind have made many in our community feel less secure, University Life is in the process of creating a working group on bias incidents as a part of Columbia’s Inclusion and Belonging Task Force. We encourage everyone who strives for a community that supports all within it to join us in this work and share your ideas.”
The university’s undergraduate deans also issued a statement:
Many of you have heard about or seen the alarming footage online, which includes painful language directed toward students of color in our community. Although we cannot comment on the proceedings, this incident is already under investigation by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, and we want to assure you that it will be investigated thoroughly, beginning with interviews of witnesses.
We are alarmed at the rise of incidents of racism and hate speech in our world today. It is more important than ever that we continually demonstrate our core values and restate our commitment to a diverse, inclusive community on campus. At Columbia, we stand firmly against white supremacist language and violence. As we said last week, our community will not waver in its support for those of any faith, race, gender, sexual orientation, background or identity.
We understand this may be a difficult time for you and your classmates. Members of our on-call team began to provide individual support as soon as we learned of the incident. If you need support this evening, please reach out to your RA, who will connect you to additional resources as necessary.
All undergraduate students are invited to an open reflection space tomorrow night, Monday, December 10, 6:00-8:00 p.m. in Lerner Hall 505, hosted by Multicultural Affairs, for students to be in community with each other. Additional areas of support will be announced as we are able to plan.
Our collective work toward peace, respect and understanding must continue, both within our community and society at large.
Kwolanne Felix, who was part of the group of students harassed by von Abele, told the Columbia Spectator, “I really hope that Columbia takes further action. They should definitely try to talk to the students that were affected by that and ensure everyone’s okay because that’s really hard to internalize.”
3. Von Abele Is a Physics Student Set to Graduate in 2021 & Published a Book on His Research Into Parallel Universes
Julian von Abele is studying physics at Columbia University and is set to graduate in 2021, according to a profile on ResearchGate. According to the website, von Abele, “currently studies at the Department of Physics, Columbia University. He is a full-time student. Julian does research in Mathematical Physics, Quantum Field Theory, Quantum Physics and Theoretical Physics. His current project is ‘Action Bends the Omniscape’.”
Von Abele has self-published a book titled “Physics Reforged: The New Theory of Parallel Universes, Hidden Dimensions, and the Fringes of Reality,” in 2015, when he was still in high school, according to Amazon.com. He wrote in the book’s description:
For centuries, the notion of parallel universes, hidden realities ruled by distinct laws of Nature, has fascinated philosophers and scientists alike. Now, a new theory of physics, the QCI hypothesis, predicts that alternate dimensions of the cosmos truly exist, together comprising an endless quilt of parallel realities. A straightforward generalization of quantum physics, the science of subatomic particles, QCI Theory holds the promise of forever changing our understanding of the cosmos. In this volume, for the first time, the original discoverer of the QCI hypothesis has provided a simple explanation of the theory, suitable for anyone with an interest in the nature of the universe. Discover the colossal potential extent of the multiverse, the bizarre laws of physics applying in hidden dimensions, and the possibility of experimental confirmation. The gates are truly open for our understanding of reality.
In the about the author section of his Amazon page, von Abele said, “Julian began developing new theories of physics in the eighth grade. A student in high school, he has published a volume detailing a radical new version of quantum mechanics, which suggests the existence of a multiverse. He plans to study theoretical physics at University, and continue to pursue his theories.”
In addition to his studies, von Abele started a tutoring company in February 2018, according to New York state records. Von Abele registered VON ABELE TUTORING ASSOCIATES L.L.C. using Columbia’s address, according to those records.
4. He Graduated from Radnor Township High School in Pennsylvania in 2017 & Started a Twitter Account Saying He Was an ‘Independent Candidate for President’ in 2016
Julian von Abele graduated from Radnor Township High School in Pennsylvania in 2017, according to the Delaware County Times.
In 2016, von Abele started a Twitter account “@julianforusa” and a website, julianvonabele.com calling himself an “independent presidential candidate.” He wrote in the lone tweet on the account, “Let’s end our corrupt, two-party system. Vote Julian in 2016. http://www.julianvonabele.com.” In the bio for the account he wrote, “I’m Julian von Abele, author, physicist, and 2016 Independent candidate for President. In November, vote for a real leader. It’s time to vote Julian.”
On Facebook, von Abele also shared a link to the website and wrote, “It’s time we had an alternative to Hillary and Trump. If you want to stop political corruption, save the environment and have meaningful economic reform, don’t vote Democrat or Republican. Vote Julian. I’m running for office in 2016.” The website has since been taken down. Another website shows that von Abele ran for office at his high school that same year.
5. Students Have Called for Disciplinary Action Against von Abele, Though Some Have Expressed Support for Him, a Student Senator Says
Columbia students have reacted with anger and outrage, calling for disciplinary action against the student and for other efforts to be taken by the university. Students spread the video on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day on Sunday, calling for a response from the school.
“Last night, a white supremacist student at Columbia University in the City of New York 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 grabbed a Black woman and asked Black women if they liked to date white men, according to several individuals,” the Columbia University Black Students’ Organization said in a statement posted to Facebook. “Earlier today, we, the Columbia University Black Students’ Organization, held open space hours and an open board meeting to put together a timeline of events and discussing comfort levels with various actions as well as discussing actions on what we can take as a community. We want to make sure that we can come together with a common narrative/message and have a plan of what we want to come from this incident.”
The Columbia University Student Organization of Latinxs wrote on Facebook, “This weekend, a group of POC students were harassed in front of Butler library by a CC sophomore, who was spouting white supremacist rhetoric. The video has been circulating in Columbia students’ social media. We are outraged by these events and demand that this student is held accountable. We also want to stress that this type of incidents do not happen in isolation and we demand that Columbia University sees this as an institutional problem that is perpetuated by its administrative, academic, and business practices.”
The organization added, “SOL stands in solidarity with all marginalized and minoritized communities on campus. We acknowledge this type of incidents are triggering and make students of color feel unsafe. We encourage y’all to practice self-care and feel free to reach out to us.”
University Senator Alfredo Dominguez, a Columbia senior, told the Spectator, “You can have arguments all you want about free speech and people being entitled to say what they want. But when that bubbles [into] assaulting black or brown people with that and then stalking them … you’re getting into levels of hate crime and your speech being directly related to violence.”
Dominguez said he received an email from students calling themselves “Justice for Julian,” who stated their support for von Abele and said that the statements were not racist nor threats to students of color. Dominguez told the newspaper, “There needs to be more dialogue. It’s not like this person just started on Columbia’s campus—they’ve been here for a year and a half and are still thinking about people this way. It’s clear that the University needs to take a further stance about better educating its students more holistically.”