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.
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”
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.
Vice President for Arts and Sciences
Dean of Columbia College
Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science