Nov

14

24 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I sent the following email to all of the relevant administrators this morning. Please send your own (or feel free to use mine verbatim), if you agree with it.

    Dear President Bollinger, Provost Brinkley, Deans Quigley and Colombo, Vice President Dirks, and Executive Vice President Griffith,

    I am writing to voice my personal objection to both the hunger-strikers tactics and goals. They do not represent the student body in any legitimate form: they were not elected as leaders of its student government, nor as leaders of any recognized campus organizations. As such, I do not feel that it is appropriate for the university's administration to be meeting with them, as the self-proclaimed representatives of a constituency that it, at best, divided regarding both their aims and their protest.

    While they claim to represent over a thousand people, based on the number of petition signatures they have gathered and the size of their supporters' group on Facebook, it should be noted that a majority of their supporters are unaffiliated with Columbia University. There is significant student opposition to the hunger strike, and some form of study or poll should be done to see how much of the student body actually agrees with the strikers before any further negotiations take place.

    In fact, the lone, non-scientific, poll that I am aware of on this issue, which was conducted by the Columbia Spectator, showed that 73% of respondents felt that negotiating with the strikers sets a bad precedent. The poll can be found at [ external link to www.columbiaspectator.com ]

    I truly hope that the strike ends soon, and that no more strikers require emergency medical attention, but I firmly believe that the administration should not proceed by negotiating with them, or capitulating to their demands.

    Sincerely,

    Michael Nadler

    Columbia College class of 2007

  2. awesome

    good to know we have a bunch of sane faculty who oppose that ridiculous prof letter to the sun

    what a surprise that their fields tend to be more quantitative

    • well  

      Note how most of them are up at the Med Center. They're a) completely removed from campus atmosphere and campus politics b) dealing with undergrads and c) anything related to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

      CUMC has almost always operated semi-independently of the rest of the University and doe it's own thing. They like to be left alone. Until I see serious response for the pro-Bollinger statement among FAS, I'm not counting the counter-petition for much.

      • except

        well you're utterly wrong--i just googled 3/4 names to see where they worked--one was a climate scientist at GISS, another a barnard math prof, and another a East Asian Studies lecturer

        I again googled only the first 10 or so names right now and found a comp sci prof and mealac lecturer and a philosophy assistant prof

        Funny how you're trying to negate opinion by dismissing CUMC in any event--a lot of demands are campus wide issues adn CUMC is affected

        Everybody knows that the extremists in history/anthropology/english tend to hire only like minded idealogues--so until i see significant support in depts outside of those, i won't believe their claims

    • yeah seriously  

      humanities professors are fucking idiots? what a shocker! science profs actually pay attention to...evidence? omg!

    • Racism  

      That list looks like it could have been the roll call for a Jewish wedding.

  3. Is it it me

    I'm sorry but if the history of this university is ever to include a chapter that can be summarized as "graffiti strewn on men's room stall leads to campus-wide shift in academic focus," you can pretty much say goodbye to record-low acceptance rates because no one will want to apply here anymore.

    • Red Flag

      despite the "record-low acceptance rates" Columbia's yield (the percentage of students we accept who enroll) is firmly in the bottom half of the Ivies.

    • you're  

      absolutely right. i hate that these moron strikers want to destroy our alma mater.

    • Sam  

      "I'm sorry but if the history of this university is ever to include a chapter that can be summarized as "graffiti strewn on men's room stall leads to campus-wide shift in academic focus," you can pretty much say goodbye to record-low acceptance rates because no one will want to apply here anymore."

      Amen.

      And preach it, brother Nadler!

  4. ESC  

    Read the ESC statement.

    Its good to know people are coming to their senses. Anyone up to join the republicans for a barbeque?

  5. stater  

    The problem with all these statements is that it's easy to agree or disagree partially but not in total. For example, the first concern in the faculty letter is completely reasonable: outside groups should not be swaying tenure decisions. The second point is also pretty non-controversial: faculty have a right to be upset if major decisions are in fact being made without their consent.

    Were I a professor, I would have a lot of difficulty with the other two points, but what do you do? I support the overall sentiment.

    Similarly, what to do if you support, say, one demand of the strikers, but not of the others?

  6. Adam Cannon!  

    The man has signed the faculty petition! All must comply.

  7. Anonymous

    Dear Mike,

    I must say your letter shows a lack of understanding
    of democracy. Simply because someone is not an elected leader does
    not mean their concerns are invalid.

    To deny the right of students to non-violently protest is to deny a
    fundamental right. That the administration meets with these students
    to discuss their concerns is appropriate. They are constituents of
    the University and should have every right to bring their concerns to
    the administration, and bring them aggressively. Should a group
    opposing their demands approach admin, they should meet with them too.
    The existence of student councils should not preempt student contact
    with administration.

    What's gone largely unsaid, out of deference to the student councils,
    is their non-prioritization of the concerns students of color.
    Councils have not in our time at the University tried to lobby the
    University to address these concerns.

    The grievances are real, Mike. Whether the majority agrees with the
    demands or not, the hate crimes and the underfunding of critical
    departments and the unbalanced core and the arrogant expansion plan
    all need to stop. Tactics and specifics can be debated, but
    trivializing the issues only further marginalizes the marginalized.

    • Anonymous

      Since Sakib posted this, which he sent me privately as well (with the neutrally-worded subject line "Your letter is embarrassing"), I'll post what I sent back to him.


      "I must say your letter as posted on Bwog shows a lack of understanding of democracy. Simply because someone is not an elected leader does not mean their concerns are invalid."



      I never said that the concerns were not valid. The validity of their arguments is something I never adressed in my letter, although I do disagree with most of them. Not all, but certainly the majority... Regardless, the validity of their concerns has nothing to do with my argument, as stated.

      "To deny the right of students to non-violently protest is to deny a fundamental right. That the administration meets with these students to discuss their concerns is appropriate. They are constituents of the University and should have every right to bring their concerns to the administration, and bring them aggressively. Should a group opposing their demands approach admin, they should meet with them too. The existence of student councils should not preempt student contact with administration."


      I don't deny their right to protest. They've got every right to, so long as they don't infringe on the rights of others (a la the minutemen shitshow), which I don't beleive that the hunger strike does. I disagree with both the goals and tactics of the protest, by which I mean I think protesting in this manner is unecessary and unwise given the circumstances, but I don't think that they should be prevented in any way from continuing their hunger strike. I do, however, feel that it is misguided

      While I agree that the university should respond to the demands and concerns of its students, it has to be selective in how and when it does so. There are roughly 4,000 students in CC, 1,600 engineers (i think?), and I've got no clue how many students in GS, Barnard, and the various graduate schools. The administrators can't possibly meet with every student, or even every group of students that has a complaint. The reason that we have student leaders is to bridge the gap between students and administration. Representing the students concerns is their job. They are given legitimacy in this task because they are chosen by the student body to represent it. The strikers chose to take on leadership roles themselves, without the active support or consent, in any way, of the student body. As such, in my eyes, they lack legitimacy and should not be negotiating with administrators on behalf of a constituency that does not necessarily support the views that they promote.

      "What's gone largely unsaid, out of deference to the student councils,
      is their non-prioritization of the concerns students of color. Councils have not in our time at the University tried to lobby the
      University to address these concerns."

      agree with this, but the solution isn't to make an end-run around the system, unless it has been demonstrated that there is no other option. To my recollection, neither Bryan (who was our year, hence me using him as the primary example, since he was in school the entire time we were), nor any of the other strikers have run for student council positions. To my recollection, and I could be wrong about this, but no one in our four years ever ran for student council leadership positions on a platform remotely similar to that proposed by the strikers.


      That the Councils haven't given heed to these issues is a red herring. The real question here is, if these are such pressing, important, and widely supported views and issues, why has no one run for leadership positions using these arguments? Again, if all other options for change have been tried and exhausted, then protesting and trying to go outside of the system might be a legitimate tactic. That is simply not the case here, however. Rather, there have been no attempts to show the support for these issues, or to work within the system as it stands, at least as far as I am aware of.

      "The grievances are real, Mike. Whether the majority agrees with the demands or not, the hate crimes and the underfunding of critical
      departments and the unbalanced core and the arrogant expansion plan
      all need to stop. Tactics and specifics can be debated, but
      trivializing the issues only further marginalizes the marginalized."

      Hate crimes: Agreed.

      Critical departments: What makes a department critical? Its not an a priori fact that ethnic studies is a critical department, nor have I seen anything to suggest that the student body, as a whole, wishes it were better funded. Increased funding for ethnic studies means other programs and departments must receive less funding. Its a zero-sum game, and I'm not convinced that it is indeed either "critical", nor "underfunded", which suggests that there is some ideal standard of funding that the university is not living up to.

      Unbalanced core: Similarly, what does it mean that the core is "unbalanced"? You are implying that there is some ideal standard that the core does not live up to, but not a) proving that such a "balanced core" exists or b) demonstrating that Columbia's core fails to live up to this ideal.

      For both of those complaints, I'd also point out that Columbia doesn't hide what the core curriculum is in any way, nor does it try to hide the supposed weakness (I say supposed because I don't know much about the department nor how it compares to similar dept's at other schools) of the ethnic studies department. Students who come to Columbia expecting to major in Native American Studies shouldn't be coming to Columbia in the first place. If I wanted to study finance, which Columbia doens't offer as a major, or marketing, or any number of other fields, the solution is to go to a school that has a strong department or program for that subject, not to go to a school that doesn't and try to force the school to change.

      Expansion plan: I fully support Columbia's efforts. If you want to get into that one, feel free to tell me why you oppose it and I'll gladly send along another point by point rebuttal.

      "Sakib Afzal Khan
      Boston College Law School '10
      Columbia University School of Engineering '07
      Associate Editor, EagleIOnline.com
      Co-Representative to Section 1, South Asian Law Students Association "


      Always happy to argue (and maybe thats why you're in, and I'm headed for, law school),

      Mike

      PS - I find the contrast between the tone of your letter and its subject line, versus the opening line of the letter, pretty funny...

      • Anonymous

        To clarify the post-script:

        In his email to me, Sakib began the letter with "How have you been? I hope all is well."

        I thought this was kind of funny, given the subject line, and the rest of the email.

  8. over it

    The vitriol aimed at the protesters really makes me hate Columbia; too many CU students are just straight up @$$holes.

    And, I have never heard of the profs on that anti CU-FAC letter.

      • non@$$hole

        I probably would disagree with you on most political matters, but I completely agree with your response to the vitriol. This place has a lion's share of jerks. I guess that explains the mascot.

    • not really

      if anybody has been assholes its been the protestors and their activist/extremist friends who have initially painted dissenters as racist, complacent, negligent etc and acted as their voice without consulting them

      don't co opt the students voice and then expect hugs and kisses when you try to explain to them why they're too dumb to understand the merit of the positions you're advocating

      P.S. nice attempt to de legitimize the concern of the profs on teh anti CU-FAC letter. Perhaps if you had to take a legit science/quantitative class occasionally like quant students have to do you'd have heard of the brilliant minds at Columbia who truly contribute to its sterling reputation for thorough research.

  9. surprise

    Never heard of Eric Kandel, nobel-prize winning neuroscientist?

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.