PrezBo Gets Press

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Affirmative action has been one of the most hotly debated topics in higher education since the 1960s, as well as one of PrezBo’s most hotly pursued passions. Before taking the reins as Columbia’s president, ‘Bo.0 served as president of the University of Michigan, where his defense of affirmative action in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger made international headlines. While his work with issues of diversity is pivotal, he still strives to maintain a balance between sustaining Columbia’s educational mission and continuing his role as a first amendment scholar and firebrand defender of wide-open free speech. He believes that the two go hand-in-hand, maintaining that the press and the university are the best places to support free speech.

Yesterday, he published an op-ed in The Washington Post (where he serves as a director) on college diversity being at risk—specifically pertaining to the Supreme Court’s pending decision as to whether or not they will hear Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin. The case, in which a white student named Abigail Fisher asserted that she would have been admitted to the university if it weren’t for her race, has been ruled in the university’s favor by lower courts. In the piece, Prezbo stresses that the court hearing the case will be a blow to college diversity across the nation. He uses Columbia as an example for what a university should strive for in terms of diversity.

Consider Columbia, where our undergraduate student body has the highest percentage of low- and moderate-income students and the largest number of military veterans of our peer institutions, as well as the highest percentage of African American students among the nation’s top 30 universities. But our country cannot rely on private universities such as Columbia to realize these benefits. Far more students attend our great public universities, where a combination of declining state support and unfavorable ballot measures pose a serious risk to our model of higher education.

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  1. Anonymous  

    Affirmative action is a strange thing. I don't really know what to make of it; I am very conflicted on the matter. On one hand, you bestow fantastic opportunities to under-represented peoples. On the other hand, you underscore racial and socioeconomic divisions and perhaps reward sub-par performance.

    I certainly know I am not the only one that shares these conflicted views. Regardless, people should be rewarded for their diligence, intelligence, and thoughts. Nothing more or less.

    • CC'13  

      i understand what you are saying, but affirmative action does not mean preferential treatment to unqualified candidates based on race. it means if candidate A and candidate B share the same qualifications but B is a member of a historically disenfranchised group, B would get the job.

      the idea that affirmative action advances people regardless of qualification is a very ugly myth.

      • wrong

        your definition is reconciliation. you have to introduce Stats on hiring practices into the job, between A and B's population groups, from a historical standpoint. if you establish the previously disenfranchised group B had been in fact statistically marginalized, then affirmative action becomes a law meant to establish a new behavioral norm consistent with societal ideals. otherwise your definition simply propagates the claim that AA is an unfair law, because you make a premise that is based on the assumption that A and B come from a statistically unfair system for that particular role (i.e. college applications into ivy league, selection into artists guilds vs. selection into hip hop industry, selection into NAACP leadership)

    • Person

      Just take an Ethnic Studies course. It will all make more sense to you, and perhaps you won't feel so 'conflicted.'

    • just my 2 cents

      Part of the reason anyone should feel slightly conflicted over current affirmative action practice is that it completely overshadows socioeconomic and class differences with the question of race. There are plenty of lower-class/poor white Americans out there who have received sub-par education because of that. I think the system needs to be re-addressed to include this, but I also don't think we should just eliminate AA until that happens, as it is solving part of a current problem. And people filing lawsuits about this, well...lord.

  2. Anonymous  

    what does prezbo care about the undergraduate student body
    talk to me again when he comes to varsity show. or a dance show. or night market. or shows that he even has a thought in his head about us.

    • O M G  


      ^ General undergraduate sentiment, despite the fact that the man shows little regard for the college, and in fact, aims to marginalize it within the university community. People have created a certain persona for him (see above), and thus obscured his actual distance from the undergraduates.

    • NO  

      The fact that the university president does not show up to plays and cultural events does not mean that he does not care for undergraduates. He teaches an undergraduate course in the political science department.

  3. Donald Trump

    Listen Prezbo, I'm a hawk times five. Better watch out bitch.

  4. Anonymous

    no one cares about the undergraduates here. the undergraduates themselves don't care, they are too busy beating down the GS folk or the barnard girl. if you wanted a 'caring' experience, should have gone to a liberal arts college

  5. Anonymous

    prezBo has got so much swag doe. listen to his words. they speak the truth!

  6. ...  

    don't worry abigail, we love diversity here at columbia! you should apply to gs and earn a prestigous ivy league degree*. with our fearless leader lee bollinger, we are true champions of diversity, both socioeconomically and racially.

    * diplomas and transcripts may vary... significantly.
    * financial aid available, but orders of magnitude less than what you'll find at any other college
    * core classes for gs students are taught by graduate students and adjuncts only, registration in real core classes may be possible, subject to administrative approval
    * private loan assistance available, rates as low as 8%
    * as part of the federal truth in education lending act, we are required to make the following disclosure to you. while we may be offering a degree program and we are brokering private loans, we are by no means implying that the degree you will earn can lead to a career whereby you will be able to successfully pay down those loans.
    * as of 2011, the new reduced gi bill results in a significant student funding gap for entering veteran students. we will help you fill this gap, with private student loans.
    * summer classes at outside institutions are not permitted for any reason. you want classes, you pay us.
    * no discounts are available for research units. if you take a research job, you have to pay for it.
    * NO REFUNDS. EVER. you've read the disclaimers, you chose to join this underclass, now you can pay for it... no matter how miserable the experience is or how the kids in class that you're subsidizing with money you don't have treat you.

    • Anonymous  

      Stfu. GS is a joke. Get over it.

    • Anonymous  

      I believe you're wrong on the core classes...


    • Anonymous

      Why do GS students trash their school so much? They do it more than anyone. Try to attend one of the other ivies and see if they treat you better, or even allow you to take a course. Yes, Columbia is expensive for everyone, not just GS. You are always welcome to go to a different school.

      • GS nationalist  

        Other Ivies wouldn't touch smart students whose circumstances wouldn't allow them to go to college for a year after high school? Wow, thanks for the charity. But smart people complain about unequal treatment.

        Columbia is not expensive for everyone - it gives full need aid to you and 2/3 of its undergraduates. The other 1/3 (GSers) take the same classes and get higher GPAs on average...but are excluded from dorms, career services and campus life. This wouldn't be such a huge deal for us if GS didn't advertise itself as part of Columbia, poaching the cream of the crop from impoverished community colleges and state schools, only to sweep them under the rug upon arrival. My friends and I turned down free ride scholarships to state schools, as most Columbia students probably would have. Months later, our one full-time financial aid officer returns very meager financial aid packages to us - surprise! In the few weeks before school starts, the GS incoming class can finally scramble to get massive private loans or beg their state school to take them back.

        There's no good reason for this. 25% of GS' already meager tuition receipts are returned to our school, compared with 45% for CC. The $300m Kluge undergrad aid donation went entirely to expanding CC instead of repairing GS. GS has barely had the resources to operate, let alone the initial funding needed provide a sustainable Ivy League experience. You try working a low wage job to pay for Columbia like many GSers do and see how happy you are about Columbia when some stuckup CC prick tells me to be happy or leave.

        • Anonymous

          Turning down a "free ride" to a state school was both your prerogative and (as far as you make clear) your mistake. I don't necessarily disagree that GS students should be helpe out more financially, but NONE of us have a "guarantee" for good job post-grad that will help pay of our loans. For you to think/have thought otherwise is your terribly naive choice--something I would expect from a teenager, not an adult. You are not owed admission to Columbia, nor are you exempt from the results of your narcissistic choices (going to a "better" school knowing you were not going to get adequate financial aid. Didn't know? You should have looked into it before turning down the full ride at what I'm sure is a more than adequate state school.)

          Also, this is just a note, GS students have "higher GPAs" because they don't have to take as many classes as CC/SEAS students do. Same principle as why postbacs fuck up curves in chem classes.

          Tl;dr: we all have choices, it's no one's fault but your own that you made the wrong ones when responsibly choosing a college.

  7. Anonymous  

    Yes. In theory, affirmative action is wonderful. However, I'm sure there are many instances of people who are members of underrepresented minorities who get jobs over other individuals who may be more qualified, yet, are white. Not hating on affirmative action here, just reaffirming the fact that the subject has many issues and problems.

  8. Anonymous

    You have to admit that Presbo is quite impressive on the national scene which is very importnat for Columbia University's reputation. He has 18 schools and divisions to represent, and he is doing a good job.

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