Columbia Implodes! -- Proceedings will not be tape-recorded, and the report will not be for the public

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Article/book #: 15501
Title: Columbia Implodes! -- Proceedings will not be tape-recorded, and the report will not be for the public
By: Nat Hentoff  
Published in: The Village Voice
Date of issue: Friday, 25 February 2005
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:
Commentary

Abstract:

Jimmy Breslin wrote a novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, that came to my mind while covering what is now an international story about charges that some professors in Columbia's Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) bully and intimidate students who don't agree with them. Since one of my beats is education—from pre-kindergarten on—I have covered a number of dysfunctional college and university administrations around the country. But the handling of this controversy by Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, and provost Alan Brinkley is a model of how to confuse and worsen a situation while trying to resolve its core problems.

In December, Brinkley and Bollinger appointed a special committee to investigate the charges by students in the film Columbia Unbecoming, which brought to widespread light the bullying bias of certain MEALAC professors that has been known on campus for a long time.

Susan Brown, a spokeswoman for Columbia University, told the online edition of The Jerusalem Post: "We take student concerns of this nature very seriously and believe the ad hoc committee will evaluate these charges in a rigorous and utterly objective manner."

As I will show next week, this is largely a rigged rather than an objective committee, and if I were to appear before such a committee, I would demand that I be able to bring my own tape recorder.










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