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Of course Columbia students hate secrets.

Spectator promotes body-image issues.

Soon we’ll vote via texting too.

Newsflash: learning Mandarin is useful for jobs!

What about Barnard’s needs?

P.S.: The Spec site is moving really slowly due to the high traffic generated by being linked to on every right wing blog in the country. 

ALSO! A statement from student leaders about M. Ahmadinejad’s arrival, in which they complain about the short notice of the announcement, is pasted after the jump.

UPDATE! John McCain has something to say too!


As is surely common knowledge to everyone by now, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, will be speaking on campus this Monday, September 24 th 2007. We believe that this presents an incredible opportunity for the student body to learn about world affairs and to challenge a major controversial figure. In a university setting, no view is too disreputable to be excluded – the goal of a university is to hear and present a wide array of opinions so that they may be challenged and debated in the spirit of free speech and the pursuit of knowledge.

We are disturbed, however, by the extremely short notice given for this event. It should be obvious to anyone that this is an event that will generate a strong reaction from the student body. How can we adequately prepare ourselves in four days for the insightful and productive debate that this event should elicit on campus? How can students who wish to protest successfully organize and plan in four days when demonstrations on campus require a minimum of seven days advance notice for security review? How can students who actually care and want to learn and attend the event if registration is closed before the event is even officially announced?

We understand the University’s hesitation to announce earlier, since President Ahmadinejad had not accepted the invitation until Wednesday. But, in an event as controversial as this, the needs of the students should take precedence. The student body should have been informed as soon as the invitation had been extended. Even if the invitation had been declined, students would have begun the debate that the event was originally meant to inspire. To keep information like this from the students actively stifles debate.

As President Bollinger said in his Statement yesterday, “Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas—to understand the world as it is and as it might be. To fulfill this mission we must respect and defend the rights of our schools, our deans, and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes. … We trust our community, including our students, to be fully capable of dealing with these occasions, through the powers of dialogue and reason.” As student leaders we agree with this statement. For this ideal to be recognized, however, we need to allow real student participation. The entire campus community must have the opportunity to actively engage President Ahmadinejad in order to achieve true academic freedom and discussion.

In recent years, criticism surrounding the administration’s handling of major speakers has been prevalent both on and off campus. Let us use this event as an opportunity to improve the process and guarantee student involvement so that we can achieve the high level of academic discourse that this campus deserves.

Paula Cheng, President of ABC

Michelle Diamond, President of CCSC

Chris Kulawk, President of The College Republicans

+ several others (the signature list was incomplete)




  1. others  

    Josh Lipsky, President of Dems
    Jon Siegel, Chair of SGB
    Josh Rosner, President of Hillel
    Jacob Krieger, President of LionPAC
    Laura Stoffel, President of SGA
    Nilou Safinya, President of Iranian Students Association

  2. john  

    What phonies "No view is too disreputable to be included..." I'm not sure they really believe that. Would it have been too disreputable to invite the Chancellor of Germany in 1945? "An incredible opportunity to learn about world affairs?" Only for dummies who have been living under a rock for the past two years and haven't heard of this messianic, half-crazed lunatic's ambition to wipe another country off the face of the Earth. Too bad the signatories to this silly little letter couln't muster the courage to take a bolder position. They should be ashamed to call themselves "student leaders."

  3. Perspective

    When Al Gore spoke on campus two weeks before the 2000 election, the event came together at the last moment. The audience was even more limited, because the event was held in Low Rotunda, and sections were blocked off for dignitaries and media. But because the event was organized and run by students, a priority was placed on ensuring access. The simple solution: a lottery. An e-mail was broadcast to all Columbia students, and they were given 24 hours to reply. Thousands requested seats; the recipients were chosen at random.

    Protesters wanted a space to protest; the Secret Service and NYPD pressed to have that area outside the gates or by Lerner. The student sponsors flatly announced that unless a suitable area was agreed upon the event wouldn't move forward, and CU security echoed their commitment to ensuring access. Protesters were eventually allowed up to the sundial. They still complained bitterly about their distance from the venue, but that's the nature of a compromise.

    The problem with this event is that it's being run administratively - student interests are clearly an afterthought. That pits students against the administration in a regrettable fashion.

    It's not too late to fix many of the problems (or, for that matter, to rescind an innappropriate invitation, although that's wishful thinking). There's no reason the administration couldn't decide that the ad hoc process of distributing tickets was ill-advised, and use a lottery, instead. It can waive the seven-day period for protest security reviews as it has already waved myriad rules about booking venues and speakers. It can (and must) work with student groups and leaders who wish to organize protests, panel discussions, and talks that respond to this event.

    I applaud the student leaders who have come together to remind administrators about the real values of the institution - that as a university, it must place the interests of its own academic community ahead of the temptations of the international spotlight. Their statement embodies the best of Columbia's traditions - the commitment of its students to engaging actively and passionately with the world around them.

  4. jesus  

    you guys just really need something to whine about. last time it was the fact that he might possibly come at all. now that a lot more people have been swayed and bollinger made a really good case for why he should speak (plus you have to make up for minuteman-gate) you're going to whine about the mechanics of the event? what next time? "you didn't tell me ahead of time ahmadinejasdfdhfhgf was going to wear a red shirt! im wearing a red shirt too! we totally look like dorks with matching shirts! bollinger!"
    fucking ivy league pussies (i wonder if this will get censored? d-murph might be on the prowl too with all these heightened tensions)

    • CC' 07

      It's pretty notable that this stands in contrast with the reaction to Ahmadinejad's invitation last year, when student leaders said that he shouldn't have been invited, period. End of story. They didn't try to hide behind transparent rationalizations. Does anyone really beleive these "leaders" would have been ok with Ahmedinejad's visit had they been told about it a month ago?

  5. Perspective

    You're missing the point.
    Bollinger's entire justification for hosting a man whose views he finds repugnant are "the mechanics of the event," as you so blithely put it. Specifically, that there is educational value in students being directly exposed to what Ahmadinejad has to say, and in the discussions that his visit will spark. That's why Bollinger's approval was contingent upon "mechanics" - specifically, Prezbo insisted on his right to condemn Ahmadinejad's views before he then grants him an international forum to air them, and on reserving half the time for audience questions.

    Now, I happen to think the entire premise inane - there are some leaders (F.W. De Klerk and Robert Mugabe sprind to mind) who should not be legitimized by such invitations, even if their views are condemned and rebutted.

    But if you're going to cede Bollinger's premise, then you have to follow it through. If it's beneficial for students to be in the room with Ahmadinejad, then it's a simple matter of fairness to ensure that all students have an equal shot at that opportunity, not just those who happened to hear about the event in advance. And if airing controversial views is healthy, and debate is enlightening, then the administration needs to accomodate protesters and counter-events as well as the main event. That's not whining, it's common sense.

  6. please  

    all y'all who want to argue about the man himself, go to the other thread.

  7. Tickets

    I'm assuming that the reason they can't do a lottery is that it would take too long and they need the time to do background checks on those that registered. Just a guess.

  8. Perspective


    Perhaps. But we're talking about authenticated CU affiliates, for starters - on what basis would an enrolled student be denied access? Besides, as I wrote above, the lottery takes remarkably little time or effort, and the event isn't until Monday. You could hold it today, give the Secret Service the names and SSNs tomorrow, and it could easily pre-screen the audience well in advance of the event. I'm sure the room will be swept, magnetometers deployed, and security tightened, anyway. The process worked on a tighter timeline for Gore, then-VP and the presumptive next POTUS; I find it difficult to believe it couldn't be done for Ahmadinejad. The problem here isn't logistics, it's a lack of desire on the part of senior administrators.

  9. selfish students  

    Has anyone noticed just how freaking selfish Columbia's student leaders look with this? Of all the things to gripe about here and take a stand on, they complain about lack of fair warning to THEM? The man is already a mass murderer, and he is responsible for the deaths of American soldiers on a daily basis--but all we can do is throw a hissy fit to Bollinger about having been five days' notice? Really, get a dose of reality guys, the world DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND COLUMBIA AND YOURSELVES.

  10. secret

    why not hold the event in a larger venue like lerner?

  11. the world  

    leaders forum isnt focuses solely on the fucking undergraduate student body. i actually think people who check the world leaders forum website regularly are EXACTLY the people who demonstrate sufficient interest to be able to attend.

  12. Perspective

    the world:

    Who said anything about limiting the event to undergraduates, or even giving them priority? And if you think the people who signed up heard about it through the website, and not via friends and connections, you're smoking something.

    secret #2:

    I'm not involved in this event, but I've planned enough to hazard a guess. The balcony is damned near useless for an event such as this because it has seperate entrances, which renders it a nearly-insurmountable security nightmare. To the best of my knowedge, it's never been used for a secured event. The warehouse-style main hall of Roone Arledge presents its own logistical headaches. It's perfectly flat, for one thing. So if you're expecting a significant media presence, particularly if there will be cameras, you need to install large risers. Those eat up floor space, and can't be placed too far to the back for line-of-sight reasons. Add in large margins for entrance and exit, and you come up with about 600 chairs.

    For the limited audience, blame Bernard Tschumi. It's all part of Lerner's unique charm.

  13. regular WLF checker  

    "And if you think the people who signed up heard about it through the website, and not via friends and connections, you're smoking something."

    Exactly. The registration process was clearly a poor one. I still do not see the reason WHY it could not have been done by lottery.

  14. SEAS '09  

    1. Good cartoon.

    2. I feel like the short notice was intentional. It gives the media less time to talk about how awful we are for doing this.

  15. usabokoh

    FW DeKlerk jointly received a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for his part in dismantling Apartheid. Hardly in the same league as genocide practitioner Mugabe and the Persian Hitler wannabe.

    • difference

      Ahmadinejad supposedly wanted to wipe Israel off the map. He didn't say anything about exterminating the Jews.

      • You say that  

        like that's ok. Jews are systematically discriminated against in Iran. They have far fewer Civil Liberties than the Muslims.

        • Americans

          are systematically discriminated against in China. They cannot buy Chinese A-share stock and it is very difficult for them to acquire property. They have absolutely no civil liberties there at all, and far fewer rights than do the Chinese.

          • actually  

            while that's true on paper, you'll never get in trouble as a white foreigner unless you make a scene about something politically. Drugs are easy to come by, and the people who get busted for it are always the locals.

            As long as you're fueling their economy and not making a fuss, you've got infinitely more rights than the locals, who'll often get beaten up right after you leave an area that might be considered "sensitive" or commit a minor infraction.

      • and again

        Do you honestly think he'd say, ''OK, Jews, you've got a week to get out of Israel because I'm nuking it ito oblivion''? Use your brain. Wiping out Israel inevitably means hatred of Jews. Please don't tell me I have to spell this out for you.

  16. DHI  

    Fuckin' World Leaders Forum.
    Not Student Politics Forum

  17. i love  

    how all these politicians and assorted douchebags (students included) don't really refute bollinger's reasoning for letting the man speak. they just point to the same acts he's responsible for that bollinger already pointed out and is calling him out on. the thing is, said douchebags actually manage to convince the masses with that kind of bullshit rhetoric because joe everybody doesnt know a thing about anything except his favorite brand of pork rinds

  18. well  

    I got a spot, but I'm not a "student leader." I just spend way too much time reading Bwog, so I saw it right away.

  19. registered as well  

    i have been going to the wlf every year since ive been here and so i check it religiously each fall...however i first saw an article on the web about homie not getting permission to lay a wreath at ground zero and at the end of the article they briefly mentioned he was speaking here...naturally i rushed to the wlf site and lucked out. sucks for you bitchez

  20. Student Politicians

    could learn something from real ones

    its rare that students are less willing to take strong positions than actual politicians...

  21. eightyfive

    "In a university setting, no view is too disreputable to be excluded..."

    Presumably the author sought to claim "In a university setting, no view is so disreputable as to be excluded" but lacked the mental clarity to reason through the statement, fantastically stupid though it may have been.

    Did none of the signatories bother to point out the comical illogic of this grammatically malformed assertion? Did it simply escape everyone's notice?

    And you're *college* students?

  22. not again...  

    I was sorry to see that the Spectator quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that Israel should be "wiped off the map." The phrase is a serious mistranslation which was perpetuated by the New York Times many months ago, and continues to enter every discussion about Ahmadinejad and Israel, despite being labeled as a misquote by nearly every mainstream expert in Farsi. I don't understand why it is so difficult for the Spectator to do a little bit of research before their stories...a quick google search gives the following informative link,

    and wikipedia also has a useful discussion under "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel."

    I would point out that I'm not saying this in support of Ahmadinejad, nor do I have any delusions about his benevolence towards Israel. I'm just sick of hearing the goddamn phrase "wiped off the map" despite it being an enormous mistranslation.

    • I speak Farsi  

      I'm pretty sure he said something to the effect of "Israel will be wiped off the pages of time"...meaning that eventually it'll be destroyed. By somebody (and he'll be happy for it). He constantly rants about Israel so it's NOT A STRETCH to say that he actually wishes he COULD wipe Israel off the map.

  23. I think the point is

    This guy is really controversial. Yes. That's they point. If there existed some imaginary person that we all agreed with, what would be the point of listening to him/her speak? Maybe Ahmadinejad is horrible. I think he is bad news, for sure. But that's exactly why I'm jealous that I don't have a spot to hear him speak.

  24. Perspective?  

    Thanks for the comments, Matthew Harrison, nice to have you back

    • secret #2

      I doubt perspective is the illustrious MPH. MPH would know:
      the balcony was used for John Ashcroft and the event had a capacity of 1100.
      Norman Finkelstein was done warehouse style and had a seating of 800, extending into the exit system, yes, but still more than the 600.

      600 is an artificially lowered number, by Public Safety. I would hazard a guess it has little to do with the design of Lerner and much more to do with Public Safety's estimate of their crowd/riot control capacities.

  25. Because  

    Do you know what Bani-Israel means?

  26. Americans  

    in China are foriegners. Jews in Iran are nationalized citizens being discriminated against.

  27. lurker  

    skimming the right-wing linkers, its funny to see the number of people claiming to rescind their Columbia acceptances, even though there's absolutely no way in hell someone would still be deciding on a Columbia acceptance (early action, transfer, whatever)

  28. solomanpal

    Oh yes it does!!! ask them. The world revolves around all these worldly wise 19 something year-olds. What vast experience they must have....Why hell I bet more than a few have even back-packed Europe one summer. Think of all that THC induced comprehension, that specific indoctrination by the lefty high school and university profs.Imagine the glorious world future generations get to inhabit with this crowd at the helm.Never fear. They will protect us!

    • university student

      It's exactly that kind of stereotyping and small thinking that has lead to such outrage over allowing a foreign leader to speak at a respected University. The world may not revolve around Columbia, but as it was hosted at a university where students pay thousands of dollars a year to increase their knowledge of the world at large, and to expose themselves to knew ideas or challenge old ones, then it is their right to be given more advance notice on such an important event.

      Also, as it is the Student Leaders making the statement, they will, of course, choose to represent the interests of the students who no doubt voted for that very representation.

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