Is there something in the water?

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UPDATE: Letter from VP Dirks, Dean Quigley and Navratil included after jump.

Bwog just got a copy of this blast email that went out to GS students.

From: Mary McGee

Date: Oct 11, 2007 4:29 PM

Subject: **Vandalism in Lewisohn Hall

To all GS students:

 It is very distressing to report that anti-semitic graffiti was found

in a bathroom stall in Lewisohn Hall.   These kinds of hateful crimes

directed against the Jewish community or any other individuals or groups will not be tolerated.  I have been a member of the Columbia faculty for thirty years and know that we as a community stand for values that are completely antithetical to such vile and hate-filled images.  Let us seize this occasion to renew our commitment to the values of inclusiveness, respect, and toleration that we all cherish. And let us make clear to one another that we will not allow such cowardly hate-mongering to divide our community.  I can assure you that the Office of Public Safety and the New York Police Department are conducting a full investigation of this incident .

Peter J. Awn


And, after the jump, PrezBo’s cumulative response to what we shall heretofore dub (the Great) Racism Rash.

“Dear member of the Columbia community,

I am saddened to report that one of the bathrooms in Lewisohn Hall

was sullied with an anti-Semitic smear. It has been promptly

removed and is now being investigated.

I want to make two points. When words are the offender, as in this

incident, I am reluctant to draw attention to them and will

exercise restraint in doing so going forward. I do not want to

broadcast, in any way, the message they attempt to send or empower

those behind them. Despite the irrational, destructive hatred that

persists in our society and world, we do not accept this anywhere

at this University. No one among us should feel marginalized or

threatened by words of hatred. We are one community; and as one

community, we will overcome these hateful acts and hold each other

to the highest standards of respect for the dignity and diversity

of every individual.

In response to questions students have raised, I also want to

reassure you that we have utmost confidence in our Public Safety

officials and in the NYPD. Not only do they have well established

communications protocols in place when there is an immediate threat

of harm; they distinguish crimes that threaten our physical safety

from incidents like the one that occurred today.


Lee C. Bollinger”


Dear Student,

We are all appalled to confront again in our community a number of acts of bias, prejudice, and intolerance.  It is, perhaps, tempting for those not targeted in these incidents to downplay or dismiss them as the actions and attitudes of only a few, unrepresentative individuals.  At times like this it is essential for everyone to try to understand the seriousness of these incidents and how they are experienced by members of targeted groups.  Repeated administrative statements deploring these incidents are an essential part of Columbia’s response to their occurrence. But we must seek not only to prevent these incidents from recurring, but also to understand the vulnerability and isolation felt by those at risk, taking collective responsibility for each other’s security, well-being, and full membership in our University community.

Columbia strives continually for an academic community of inclusiveness and excellence in every imaginable way.  It is what brings so many of us to Columbia.  It is a privilege we all share to belong to a community in which a vital part of our excellence derives from our inclusiveness.  It is thus everyone’s responsibility to sustain and nurture our diverse community, to understand what it means to say that an attack on any one of our communities is an attack on all of us, and to do whatever we can to demonstrate that sense of acceptance, empathy, and respect for others that enables our diverse community to thrive.  We are all the poorer when divisive and threatening acts take place, and we all must do our utmost to strengthen the whole community fabric that can, when we all pitch in together, enable us to be Columbians at our very best.

This email comes with an understanding that many of you will rightly feel we are preaching to the already converted, but it is partly directed to those who may not have  yet grasped the full extent of our community responsibilities, and particularly to those individuals whose involvement in recent abhorrent incidents indicate that they just don’t get it at all. 

“Not on our campus” our student activists have been chanting this week.  They speak loudly and emphatically for us all.

To those of our students who need special support at this time, the staff of the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Multicultural Affairs are there to serve you individually and to link you to other campus resources as needed.  Their work will be even more successful if we all find ways of building our entire community upon mutual respect, solidarity and support. 

Thank you for doing all you can to make our community one of which we can all be proud.

Nicholas Dirks

Vice President for Arts and Sciences

Austin Quigley

Dean of Columbia College

Gerald Navratil

Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science


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  1. cupcake  

    haha! the pic/great racism rash comment = hilarious

  2. off-topic  

    I noticed that Bwog often uses "aww...they [do this]" as a not-so-subtle way to set themselves superior to other groups or to trivialize other groups, ex. the Manhunt sidebar description. It's petty, childish, and in this case, counterproductive since their website is actually much better designed than Bwog. Can Bwog be less pretentious assholes, considering the quality of their writing recently?

  3. ok. two things

    lee bollinger hates ______ people

    and, while i think that campus security and probably a police officer or two should be thrown into these cases, isn't 6 detectives on the noose case and now extra police working on f'ing racist doodles on a wall a little overkill?

    I guess it might be ok to devote these resources because we DON'T live in a big city where serious crimes actually occur in poorer areas and don't get as much attention

  4. This  

    may be getting a little out of hand...

  5. ibanker  

    It's amazing how we gets so many of these "hate crimes". You wouldn't think there could be so many racists at such a liberal/left-wing pro-multicultural institution as Columbia. Strangely enough you don't get all these "hate crimes" at supposedly right-leaning institutions and corporations like investment banks. Weird!?

    • ...  

      oh please. there are people who come to this school from the middle of nowhere states who've never seen a person of color in their life and make stupid, ignorant racial remarks all the time here.

      • You sir

        You sir, are a state-ist

      • meee  

        "who've never seen a person of color in their life"

        WTF? You can't be serious.

        • jpm  

          A few years ago a friend from Vermont visited me in Cleveland. We were driving downtown to see a concert and we pass some peeps having a barbeque. He grabs my shoulder and blurts out, "I know this sounds retarded but I have never seen so many blaaaaack people in once place before!" He was like, 20 at the time. So yes, this does happen, but in my experience these kind of ppl tend not to be those responsible for "incidents of bias," just hilariously idiotic.

          • Uhm

            I fail to see how that's offensive, friend. Until I moved out of the middle-of-nowhere town I was born in, I certainly would have reacted the same way. Unless he followed that comment with "... quick, turn around", it sounds like he's just commenting on his surroundings. It certainly doesn't express any kind of "bias."

      • Huh  

        Not seeing something biases you AGAINST it? I guess I must be racist against pygmy albinos, since I've never met one.

    • ha.  

      thats because they don't hire/admit/attract _____ people.

  6. fed up!  

    Bollinger's way of dealing with these situations is getting more and more appalling..
    "no one among us should feel marginalized or threatened by words of hatred."
    easy for him to say, and i don't think at this point anyone is buying that his concern for marginalized students is greater than his concern to keep all this quiet.

  7. cc student  

    in all honesty, what CAN bollinger say at this point? this has gotten completely reactionary and out of hand, obviously, and he does say that. it's easy to criticize prezbo, but what on earth should he do?

    i posted before about this, but he really just sounds like a parent who has SIMPLY HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR NONSENSE YOUNG LADY! and let's be honest--that kind of tone isn't necessarily inappropriate.

  8. racism rash?  

    no wonder i've had this itchy, swollen swastika on my inner thigh. i just thought it was really weird chafing.

  9. Polemicist.  

    It's interesting to note that Columbia College's main academic building, Hamilton Hall, has not seen this sort of racist graffiti. Obviously us CC students from the original college of 1754 are more enlightened than those other Orientalist, racist schools of the university like SIPA, TC and GS. If we want to fight racism, lets eliminate these racist schools and use their space to expand Columbia College and its mission of spreading tolerance throughout the world.

    • Perhaps

      That has more to do with the high volume of traffic in those bathrooms. But hey, a couple of years in the REAL WORLD, and you start to feel entitled to scribble shit on the wall while you drop a load. It'll happen to you!

  10. I think...

    ...in the end, we all have to realize that this is a school full of thousands of people, and that, as bored@butler has proven since day one of its inception, a lot of us are closet racists just itching to do something like this under cover of anonymity.

    Blaming the school for it seems kind of ridiculous to me, because the school brings in so many people from so many different backgrounds, and really can't "screen" each and every one of them for racism. How can it stop? That answer is, it can't, so getting all up in arms about it, while it will be a healthy way to get out some of that self-righteous indignation, really won't change any of what's going on.

    This has happened before, it'll happen again. And lest any of you think I am saying that because I am not in any way affected, I am a Jew. And you know what? I didn't care when there were swastikas found before, and I really don't care now. There's nothing I personally can do to stop racists existing at Columbia, so why bother screaming about it?

    And also, off-topic (commenter #3), this is off-topic as well: could you BE more petty and childish yourself? The tone of that "awww..." comment in reference to the manhunt is kind of vague, considering that it is part of a posting on the internet, and that writing online, or anywhere for that matter, can lose its tone in translation.

    Saying, "Can Bwog be less pretentious assholes, considering the quality of their writing recently" only marks you as one.

    • number 3  

      Who are you, Chandler Bing?

      So you're telling me that you didn't sense any sarcasm/patronizing tone from the "aww... they have their own website"? And if you made a blog tomorrow, and I said, "aww, look! Billy made his own blog!" that that wouldn't be insulting? How about this example to really make it clear for you: "Aww, this little black kid knows how to read!" I don't think there would be any confusion about the tone in that example, would there?

      How does it mark me as an asshole to point out when someone is being assholish, especially when I identified the specific behavior? So if I called someone out for being a racist, would that make me a racist too?

      • Commenter #17

        Wow, talk about getting all riled up over nothing! (Which was indeed precisely my point.)

        Yes, I detect a POSSIBLE note of patronizing condescension there, but that doesn't mean there has to be one. Everytime someone says, "awww" it doesn't have to be in an attempt to belittle anyone else.

        Just out of curiosity, why are you focusing on it this time? You wouldn't happen to be the head of Manhunt or the person who designed their website, would you?

        And my larger point, as anyone normal, semi-mentally-balanced person's would be (although I realize I'm eliminating 99% of the Columbia population) is WHO GIVES A FUCK?

        Also, way to generalize with a racist example. I was saying that your calling the people who run Bwog "pretentious assholes," after pointing out something they did that you for whatever reason decided to read in a certain way just so you could be outraged is precisely an "asshole" thing to do.

        • number 3  

          I'm actually not in SEAS, and I didn't design the website. I can take offense for a general slight, just like you can take offense at my comment without being, say, part of Bwog or the person who wrote the snarkiness.

          Dude, what's the context. I can say, "aww, cute cat." But if you cannot detect any patronizing attitude (even if it was just a snarky comment), any sarcasm, anything but genuine appreciation, then you are simply a poor reader, and a poor judge of context and there's nothing more I can say.

          Look, this isn't the first time they've used the same belittling phrase, and this time I thought I would call them out on it.

          So you're saying, that calling someone out for something perceived to be offensive is itself offensive? That would only be true if it were a false accusation, but if they were really being slightly assholish, then it would just be a true statement. Get it?

  11. wtf  

    incicents of bias? wtf... ok fine, it's semantically correct... but still "incidents of bias"?! it sounds so damn weird. just call it what it is. racism, prejudice, jackassery.

  12. oh columbia  

    it's *so* nice to see the lemming mentality at work here.

  13. haven't  

    we all been reading offensive stuff on bathroom walls since middleschool? this is a public building...just like an idiot can write stuff on his kkk website, he can subway up to 116 and write on a bathroom wall. i know how to respond to this! WASH IT OFF. move on.

  14. ha ha.  

    PS are you matt sanchez?

  15. IDEA  

    I say that we stop getting riled up. People do this kind of thing to see the reaction, the circus that ensues. If nobody gives a damn, this won't happen. The noose could be perceived as an actual threat so let the NYPD deal with it. But some idiot's remarks on a bathroom stall? I don't care what it says, it's in a BATHROOM STALL.

  16. Alum

    I miss the days when all the bad news came from Duke.

  17. solution?  

    Cameras in bathroom stalls.

    Only kidding. A little.

  18. wow  

    ok. a big portion of the ceiling of the psychology library just collapsed (and came very close to injuring people). it looks like more of it could collapse shortly. what's taking facilities so long to get here? good god, this school.

  19. sad kiwi

    guys this is all very interesting, but for the love of god the ALL BLACKS were beaten by FRANCE

  20. question  

    I'm completely against these disgusting acts, but I am rather at a loss as to how Columbia should proceed.

    As I understand it, certain groups are suggesting mandatory diversity training, changes to the Core Curriculum, etc as a way to prevent these sort of incidents. I personally don't see how forcing people to read Fanon or participate in a diversity workshop prevent these bias incidents, since they seem equally likely to inflame racial tensions as to promote racial harmony. Obviously, however, my personal impressions hardly constitute an argument for or against these changes.

    I would like to know if there is any evidence concerning how effective these diversification programs are, and where I can find it. If no evidence exists showing that these changes help create a safer and more open environment, I hardly see how one can propose these measures and expect to be taken seriously.

    I should also point out that while Fearless Leader Bollinger & Co pretend to care deeply about these issues, they don't take obvious steps, like expulsion, when the perpetrators are eventually found. For example, in the Ruggles antisemitism incident some years ago, Brown and Searles were let off very easily, being allowed to return to school a few semesters...and since their daddies hired nice (Jewish, ironically) lawyers, they will graduate with no criminal records and have sparkly Columbia degrees just like the rest of us, who somehow managed to get complete our undergraduate education without defacing our neighbors' suites with swastikas.


    • i think  

      part of the reason they weren't expelled was because they were drunk. if they were totally lucid and had done it, it might've been a different story. don't forget that they WERE charged with hate crimes.

  21. Savonarola  

    ...being allowed to return to school *after* a few semesters. My apologies.

  22. my answer

    I think the purpose of the diversity training wouldn't necessarily be to convert the blatant racist...that's probably never going to happen. The point would be to broaden people's horizons to see how racism operates in non-obvious ways today. In other words, I think it would seek to educate the people who say minorities are overreacting or that these are isolated incidents and racism isn't generally a problem anymore. That's not to say that these people "need to be educated" in any patronizing way. Instead it is a recognition that the Core attempts to teach us about several facets of society and ways to approach it without ever really discussing a factor that has profound impacts: discrimination (whether it be race, gender, religion, whatever). These are big players in the world and in our every day lives, yet the Core largely excludes those issues. For a system that claims to take a broad approach to prepare us for the world, this seems to be a pretty glaring error that the major cultures requirement is fairly ineffective in addressing. While it is true that the MC requirement makes students branch out, taking a class on ancient African history or Asian Art, while important, does not deal with the present social conditions. Additionally, the major cultures requirement only asks that we learn about race, largely ignoring a number of other societal factors (again, gender and the like).

    I don't think something about "how whitey can stop being racist" and "how all whites are whitey" are productive, but something that goes beyond this in some way to discuss endemic problems is, in my opinion, warranted in a "global education" purporting to prepare us for an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. We train the world's leaders. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that we ensure those leaders have had some academic exposure to these issues, after which they are free to disagree. It shouldn't be a way of patronizing people or assuming white guilt. It should be a way of seriously addressing serious societal concerns.

    BTW, I think that these statements are largely pointless, but there is a great deal of force and symbolism in the final, joint statement. I think that's the sort of thing people have been looking for from PrezBo and the administration.

  23. but  

    is this any better than prezbo calling a speaker uneducated, ridiculous, a fanatic and an intellectual coward? who is he to tell us to stop name calling when he uses such insults? then again, he is willing call an elected president a petty dictator and the leader via coup d'etat a champion of democracy.

    way to set an example.

    • DO NOT

      Compare what Prezbo did to a racist act. Prezbo attacked a person-- some agree with this choice,some don't. But he attacked a PERSON because of ACTS that person committed. Not a whole group of people based solely on their religion/color of their skin.

      Yes, I think it's good that we question Prezbo's authority but, bro, he's dealing with some tough shit right now...and he is not a racist.

      • excuuuuse me  

        Bollinger pitted himself against Ahmadinejad by placing himself part of "the civilized world".. what is that supposed to say about the world Ahmadinejad comes from? Like that isn't generalizing about the culture/society of Persian people in general, setting up some sort of clash of civilizations us-against-the "evil" (also Bollinger's word) other? Because that was DEFINITELY how it was used in the media, and Bollinger damn well knew that would happen. And 2 weeks later we have 3 hate crimes.

  24. oy!  

    dear douchebag racists,

    If you don't like my people, why are you attending Columbia Jewniversity. Seriously, GTFO my campus.

    a pissed off jew.

  25. cont'd  

    or black people or middle eastern people or asian people or latino people or white people for that matter

  26. mix  

    grain alcohol with your water and everything will be okay

  27. NYTimes

    Did anyone see the fluff-job on Madonna Constantine?


    A little self-indulgent, lapping up attention-o-plenty...all at our expense

  28. anonymous

    The fuck's this kerfluffle? I bet this "racist" comment was written with ironic intent (even if its expression was a poor representation thereof). At least that's how I mean my bathroom scrawls of "NIGGERS MUST HANG."

  29. bullshit  

    "She earned her Ph.D. in counseling psychology at the University of Memphis, and spent five years working in the counseling and mental health center at the University of Texas at Austin before going into academia, first at Temple University. She came to Teachers College in 1998 as an associate professor and earned tenure in 2001, with, she said, more than 30 published articles under her name.

    “Most people may go up with 15 or 20,” she said. “I figured as a black woman, I needed to at least double that.”"

    You mean HALF? Has she heard of affirmative action?

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