Moodygate in the NYT: Making the Headlines, Missing the Point
Written by Bwog Staff
As many tipsters have pointed out, Columbia was on the front page of the New York Times site (in print on A16) this morning. The second Times article about the recent resignations of Dean Moody-Adams and Provost Steele says things you probably already know: that faculty are dissatisfied, and that it had nothing to do with racism.
Still, the reporter, Alan Schwarz, seems determined to project a race narrative. He bookends the article with the supporting views of two professors, even though all relevant parties deny any racial factor. While associate J-School prof June Cross claims “I’m not saying race is the issue, but it is the subtext [in the two resignations],” former Provost Claude Steele says that it was not a factor in his decision to leave: “If I were in the shoes of the faculty member I would have the same concern…but this had nothing to do with my identity or the provost’s office,” he explains. Moody-Adams declined to comment for the article.
Of note is the contribution of Professor Andrew Delbanco, Director of the Center for American studies (the NYT for some reason undersells him as “an American studies professor,” even though he’s a big deal and is one of Bwog’s favorite contributors to the NYRB but anyway), on some of the bigger picture stuff we’ve been trying to tackle:
“Columbia has a top-down management structure that discourages informed discussion by faculty of such basic questions as how to keep the college open to students from low-income families, what’s the right mix of students from the United States and abroad, and how to keep the college small enough so that students have real contact with their professors.”
He added, “I’m hoping for open and fruitful discussion of such matters, but Dean Moody-Adams’s resignation is a reason to temper hope with caution.”
Schwarz also squeezed a vague and unsatisfying quote from PrezBo, who promises: “I will meet with faculty and talk with them about this … I completely understand why people would feel concerned. So talking internally is extremely important.”
Yes, talking internally is important. But it still remains unclear, incredibly frustratingly so, who’s going to be allowed to take part in this conversation. Here’s a hint though, it’s not going to be students.
Over the coming semester, Bwog will be firmly committed to the issue of undergraduate education at Columbia and its place within the university. We encourage you to talk to your professors as well as your friends. And of course, to us: [email protected]