Ahmadinejad NOT Invited to Campus, Bwog Confirms

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Contrary to the Columbia Daily Spectator’s top headline, “College Republicans plan to invite Ahmadinejad,” the Iranian president has not been invited to speak at Columbia by CUCR. Spec quotes from a supposed letter of invitation from CUCR to the Iranian dictator as a source. Bwog too received this “leak” on February 14th, and confirmed its falsity at the time with CUCR board members. The Spectator article seemingly quotes CUCR President Will Prasifka (CC ’12) in response to the leaked Ahmadinejad letter—however, his statement was made several weeks ago and in response to the Gilchrist drama, CUCR sources have confirmed to Bwog. [Update, Tuesday 6 pm: Bwog has since learned that when Spec asked Will for comment on Ahmadinejad on Sunday, he sent them a statement identical to the one he sent a few weeks ago about Gilchrist. Spec did not recycle his older statement.]

Update: CUCR has released the following statement, confirming that the group never intended to invite Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia.

As Executive Director Tyler Trumbach has already made clear to the Spectator, the Columbia University College Republicans does not—nor has ever intended to—invite Iranian President Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia. The CUCR remains opposed to Ahmadinejad’s hostile and intolerant regime. Any other rumors are factually inaccurate and in direct contradiction to previous statements and positions of the CUCR.

Spectator’s coverage would be almost humorous (“president of a great nation”? “two-state solution in Palestine”?!) if not for its potential to harm our club’s relations with valued donors and potential speakers. The CUCR requests that Spectator remove its egregiously false coverage and focus on reporting the facts.

Nashoba Santhanam
Regent Director of Creative Affairs
Columbia University College Republicans

The “leaked” CUCR email sent to Bwog and Spec:

2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United Nations
622 Third Ave
New York, NY 10017

14 Februrary 2012

Dear Esteemed President Ahmadinejad محمود احمدی‌نژاد:

It is with great honor that the Columbia University College Republicans extend to you an open invitation to speak at our university. Our group succeeds in providing an active forum for many conservative students despite much opposition at an institution well known for its liberalism.

Columbia remains an institution with limited ideological diversity, a fact that the administration has repeatedly refused to address, even in the face of increased media attention. To fill the ideological void left by the university both inside and outside the classroom, we take the initiative to invite conservative scholars, politicians, and activists in order to broaden the discussion of issues and provide students with diverse points of view so that they can be challenged to form their own opinions.

We would love to have the chance for our members to hear you speak about your feelings about American foreign policy, your experience as the president of a great nation, Iran’s role in the creation of a two-state solution in Palestine, and the important role of religion in government.

We can secure funding from private donors and foundations in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We can cover travel and security expenses up to $20,000 USD (240,300,000.00 Iranian Rial). Please accept our invitation to speak at Columbia University and help our community gain a much-needed conservative perspective at an exceptional research university. We look forward to the engaging discussion that you will bring to campus.


The Columbia University College Republicans

uninvited via PBS

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  1. ugh

    we know it's a tough job market out there, cucr. just keep us out of it.

  2. Anonymous  

    shit. just. got. REAL.

  3. Dear Esteemed Entertainer Pee-Wee Herman  

    It is with great honor that the Columbia University College Republicans extend to you an open invitation to speak at our university. Our group succeeds in providing an active forum for many conservative students despite much opposition at an institution well known for its liberalism.

  4. more like  

    shit just got FALSE

  5. Anonymous  

    what I want to know is where this leaked letter came from and what the source was to determine its reliability. nobody or press is providing that information which is kind of pathetic.

  6. can't wait to see  

    That token "fuck Spec" commenter's gonna splooge all over this story

  7. Anonymous  

    you can literally feel bwog's glee coming off the page lol

  8. WTF...  

    ...is a "Regent Director of Creative Affairs"?

  9. Jack Kelley and Jayson Blair  

    Guess who trained Spec's new staff this year?

  10. Anonymous  

    Fuck I'm a dinner jacket.

  11. Yo.  

    So before y'all start bitching Spec out, think about it. They had to have SOME sort of credible evidence before writing a front page article. Who do you think they are, the Post?

    I highly doubt that CUCR actually invited him, but lets be real, they're known for doing shit like this to get publicity.

  12. Anonymous

    How would one possibly believe that out of all the crazy groups at columbia the Republicans would be the ones to invite this meathead?

  13. Anonymous  

    Sloppy Spec, real sloppy

  14. omg

    go to sleep people. it's 2 am.

  15. Anonymous

    CU Dems just pulled off one of the better pranks in CU history.


  16. Anonymous  

    Notice how the spec hasn't pulled their story and they've updated it multiple times. Either that means the Spec is painfully slow with things or it means Bwog really fucked up.

  17. Anonymous  

    The best part about this whole situation? Its a scandalous win-win!


  18. Sarah Darville  

    Spectator has continued to report that members of CUCR made plans to invite Ahmadinejad, not that he had been invited, and we stand by our story. Updates here: http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2012/02/26/college-republicans-look-invite-ahmadinejad-campus

  19. Sarah Darville  

    Spectator has continued to report that CUCR members had made plans to invite Ahmadinejad, not that he had been invited, and we stand by our story. Updates to come.

  20. c

    i think we're getting away from the real story here, which is that nashoba is the best

  21. hmmm

    If a mainstream liberal group like the College Democrats did not orchestrate this, then I suspect the handiwork of the radicals at the ISO or SDS, although I do have a somewhat difficult time believing that they would deign to remind people of the ways in which Ahmadinejad stands for things that self-respecting progressives ostensibly oppose (given that I don't believe they have a problem with him). Perhaps they're evolving.

  22. hmmm

    If this is a fabrication, as common sense would suggest, then the Spectator is guilty of severely bad judgment in the very least. And if it is true that they are not responding to attempts by the College Republicans to correct the record-- and worse, are mischaracterizing the responses of the representatives of the College Republicans to Spectator staff- then they are guilty of a serious breach of journalistic ethics.

  23. the drama unfolds  

    the spec staff is standing by the story. sarah darville, one of the first spec editors worth her shit in a long time, has gone on record right up above defending spec's reporting. so here's my thoery:

    1. CUCR hatches a real, shitty, attention-whoring plan to send an invitation to ahmadinejad to come speak.
    2. spec and bwog get a hold of a leaked copy Feb 14.
    3. after two weeks of interviews and examination, spec decides the document has veracity and runs the lead story.
    4. CUCR, caught by surprise, freaks the fuck out that their half-baked plan was revealed, and hatches a shitty plan to course-correct, by sending a "correction" exclusively to bwog in the hopes of discrediting spec and saving their own asses.
    5. bwog, unable to constrain their tourettic impulses to jump on any opportunity that would let them gloat about proving spec wrong, eats up the story and shits it out without fact-checking.

    either way, someone from bwog, CUCR, or spec will be made to look like huge fools after tonight - and i'm increasingly suspecting that it won't be the folks over in the spec office.

    • Agree with this  

      Bwog doesn't seem to place much priority on fact-checking, instead typically publishing whatever is sent to them. Sometimes that works to their advantage, and they beat Spec to a story while Spec is still checking things out. Sometimes it works against them, as now, where the Republicans are quite clearly playing Bwog.

      Bwog claims to have seen everything Spec has seen -- but if you read the Spec story, you'll notice that Spec cites specific numbers associated with costs that are not mentioned in the email Bwog posted here. My theory is that Spec has a lot more documentation/evidence than Bwog ever had. And now, as suggested above, the Republicans are freaking out.

    • Anonymous  

      I disagree. It looks like Spec is most likely to come out of this looking the worst. All they have is a letter and an unnamed source. CUCR has plausible deniability if they close ranks in an intelligent way. That's what they should do regardless of whether or not the letter is genuine.

      • Anonymous  

        First, you're using the phrase "plausible deniability" incorrectly.

        And even if you weren't, if the CUCR president would neither confirm nor deny the plans, that completely nullifies your argument. If there were no such plans, and these were so completely outrageous, it would have been very simple for him to respond "Sorry, it appears you were misinformed, because that's not the case. We are not planning on inviting Ahmadinejad". There's no ambiguity there.

        ...Except he didn't deny the allegations, while other members of the board did deny them. And the Spec article says that "members of the CUCR plan to invite Ahmadinejad", not "the CUCR board invited Ahmadinejad", which is a big difference (individual members planning on acting in the future vs. entire board acted in the past).

        That means Will Prasifka and/or CUCR already have their hands at least a bit dirty from the start.

        • Anonymous  

          I don't see how I'm using that phrase incorrectly (clearly the important point in this argument) but whatever, not confirming or denying anything is not the same as confirming it, and the CUCR president is well within his right to not comment on rumors. How you interpret him doing that is up to you.

          Spec knew what they had when they published the article: a possibly spurious and ridiculously worded letter, and a source which probably requested anonymity and they made the calculated risk of publishing with it. I'm not saying they were wrong to do so, but I am saying that they should have expected this kind of fallout.

        • Anonymous  

          First off, as per Bwog's post, CUCR wasn't asked to confirm or deny anything about Ahmadinejad. Spec took an old emailed quote and passed it off as pertinent to the article. Still no apology.

          Second, any good newspaper probably sits on dozens of stories like this that are either weird or scandalous but lack any documentation. They're not published for that reason. Spec policy is supposed to be to not run with anonymous sources unless it's important, and I think this just slipped through the cracks, since it's not really news yet.

          CUCR has no incentive to do this (although they did with Gilchrist). They're reeling from any association with Ahmadinejad. Note that they jumped on the article as soon as it was published around midnight; they didn't wait for public opinion to change their minds or anything. Spec just associated them with something they had nothing to do with.

  24. Twitch

    CUCR were freaking out opposed to CIRCA having Ahma earlier on in the year. From what I gather, most of their board is deeply, deeply opposed to the Iranian regime and regard it as an oppressive and dangerous government, in the best of neocon fascion. I'd bet that they consider it a moral issue to invite Ahmadinejad.

    It's telling that they only invite people they agree with in the name of ideological diversity (Geert Wilders, Jim Gilchrist). Inviting Mahmoud is beyond not their M.O.

    If SDS on this campus is anything more than a bunch of the sons of the bourgeois in a room feeling dangerous, this was them. I hope this was them. It'd be nice to see a little life from the left.

  25. ...  

    this is hilarious! beautifully underscores the point that conservative thinkers in iran back ahmadinejad and that many conservatives on both sides of the pond are hawkish fundamentalist whackjobs.

    that said, it would truly be awesome if the libs invited mousavi to come talk.

  26. Hey!  

    Go easy on CUCR. Valentine's Day is tough on a lot of people. Some would prefer to cry alone while watching some bad Netflix rom-coms, but I guess someone could be lonely enough to ask Ahmadinejad out on a date. I guess he could be kind of sexy in the right light... you know, in that evil dictator kind of way.

  27. Anonymous  

    i find it so fitting that in my mind, cucr rhymes with fucker

  28. Twitch

    Also...what CUCR member would say "two-state solution IN PALESTINE?"--even when writing to the guy who's gonna try and revert it back to that status.

  29. Bwog seems very trusting...  

    Where did the email come from if not CUCR? Who leaked it? Why do you believe it is fake, and that CUCR is not simply backtracking out of embarrassment? It doesn't seem like anyone's actually "Confirmed" anything other than that they don't know what the word "confirmation" means.

  30. Twitch

    Because the letter *sounds like a joke.* A tiny student group doesn't have DONORS IN THE ARAB WORLD. (Note: wealthy oil Sheikhs in the Gulf aren't friends of Ahmadinejad.) The REPUBLICANS aren't supporters of the current Iranian regime.

    More importantly, if you couldn't hear the sarcasm in asking for Iran's thoughts on their role in a TWO STATE SOLUTION, which they *vehemently* oppose (by missiles and other methods), you seriously need to question your perspective on this.

    • Anonymous  

      Are you so sure about that? You don't think LionPAC has donors in Israel, which is most certainly part of what you call the "Arab world" (yes, there are Arab Jews in Israel).

  31. Anonymous

    HaHa. All the news agencies were punked again by Columbia!

  32. i think  

    the college republican group is one of the crappiest ones in this school. id be very ashmed to be in it, they are all a bunch of losers.

    -a republican

  33. Anonymous  

    Really pathetic Bwog.

  34. lolz at this whole thing

    bwog: taking politicians at their word. first rule of journalism/life in general, broken.

    nice job stirring up shit, guys.

  35. Anonymous  

    Even if Spec does have other documents that back up their story, the "leaked" email is clearly fake and is still the major source for their article. This essentially destroys any credibility that the rest of their sources have. (No Republican would refer to Ahmadinejad's voice as "a much needed conservative perspective.")

    • Have you met these idiots?  

      CUCR would say what they need to say to get this guy to come here. After coming out against the safe space posters last year, I wouldn't put anything past these people.

  36. Anonymous

    Spec clearly got this story wrong, why is there so much unnecessary drama?? Just because Sarah Darville is trying to cover her ass?

  37. Anonymous  

    Think about it. The letter was leaked February 14th. That's 14 days of investigation. Spec would not publish an article that much later after the original letter unless they had some pretty good sources--who I'm guessing spec isn't naming because they requested anonymity.
    That coupled with two clear factual inconsistencies that bwog still hasn't corrected (Spec reported they PLANNED to invite not that they invited and that the president's statements were taken from the gilchrist debacle (vague, and they obviously weren't) convince me that bwog and cucr are pulling complete wool.

  38. Anonymous  

    As someone who does a lot of price negotiation with people invited to Columbia, there's something totally sketchy about a price being listed in an invitation letter. Usually, this is a contract stipulation. Also, I don't buy it that the Republicans have some donors in Dubai. Seems totally doubtful, and people should really think about just how outrageous that letter actually sounds. Sounds to me like Spec got it wrong.

    Also, Spec, stop trolling the Bwog comment section. It's so fucking obvious.

    • Anonymous  

      Another point: why would their student organization ever explain where their private donors were located. It's a private matter. It's not discussed.

      Also also, an invitation wouldn't be sent to Ahmadinejad. It would be going to his public relations/press//etc team.

      This is idiotic.

      • Anonymous  

        Last point: Do you realize how huge of a deal the invitation of a foreign leader is for Public Safety at this school? Any invitation of Ahmadinejad would have to be cleared at all levels of administration, heavily scrutinized by public safety. This takes a lot of money, and gets buttloads of publicity.

        So seriously, Spec got it wrong.

  39. Anonymous  

    "Spec would not publish an article that much later unless they had some pretty good sources"..........or it was a pretty slow news day.

  40. CUCR  

    Aw shucks, you got us.

  41. Anonymous  

    So much butthurt and drama all round.

  42. Anonymous  

    It seems to me that a crime has been committed. Though I have not seen New York's state laws on defamation, I know that there are several cases that have gone to the court of the United States in which the United States convicted defendants. This appears to be a case of Defamation per se. If the news source is not responsible for the slander (I think that this would depend on state law), then at least the person giving the information is doing something criminal. I suggest that CUCR report this as bias and bring it forward to one of the many committees that Columbia has in place for these sort of issues. They should at least receive a letter of apology or a correction from the news source. (BWOG has done the right thing).

    • Anonymous  

      Well no, because everything Spec reported is AUTHENTIC.

    • Disappointed Columbian  

      I'd also like to say that I am disturbed by the follow-up comments as these show bias towards conservatives on campus in general. Most of the comments made here are not targeting CUCR in particular, but are comments of hate directed at anyone that can be classified as conservative. It would be hypocritical for the community to not consider these comments biased and for Columbia's bias response to not intervene. I am disappointed that we call ourselves a 'forward thinking community' when members of our community zealously display their hatred towards members with different political views.

      • Anonymous  

        It's funny, I was just wondering why, considering the relative proportions of liberals and conservatives at this school, I constantly hear butthurt character attacks coming from the right.

        You know what's not forward-thinking, almost by definition? Conservatism. Stop bitching about safe spaces for gay students under the flimsy pretense that these groups "promote divisiveness," and then maybe we'll talk. If you're concerned about this divisiveness for the sake of LGBT students at this school, you'd probably have participated in some LGBT event in the past...but you didn't. And if you're concerned about divisiveness for your own sakes, you're deluded into thinking you're somehow a marginalized group. But those hypotheticals don't matter anyway because safe spaces don't produce divisiveness. CONSERVATIVES promote divisiveness between gay and straight people by banning same-sex marriage, regulating sexual acts, and prohibiting gay couples from adopting children. You marginalized a group of people through discriminatory legislation, then mocked them when they tried to establish a student group whose sole purpose was to try to cope with all the shit your political views deemed right. And that's just one injustice of many that comprise the conservative agenda. And you have the audacity to criticize Columbia for its lack of forward-thinking? That's the most hypocritical thing I've ever heard.

    • Take Prezbos class

      You may be trolling, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. The Spec is almost certainly protected by the 1st. CUCR would be considered a "public figure." Therefore, to sue for defamation you would have to prove that the article was false AND that actual harm was done to CUCR (for example that they lost donors or members because of the article), which would be difficult to do. If you could do that, you would ALSO have to prove malice, that is that Spec wrote the article with the intent of harming CUCR, or that they published it with reckless disregard for the truth. Reckless disregard is much harder to show than it may seem. The fact that Spec asked any board members for their views would be enough to show at least some regard for the truth, even if it was very, very poor reporting.
      In conclusion, no lawsuits here.

  43. Anonymous  

    oh, and isn't it interesting that there isn't even a date specified in the letter? it's just an open invitation?

  44. Anonymous  

    I highly doubt that Spec, regardless of what you think about the publication or its editors, would publish the letter without a confirmed source, unless they are COMPLETELY stupid. Therefore, they are continuing to say it is legitimate but not revealing the source at this point in time for whatever reason.

  45. Skeptical  

    Didn't know Alex Jones commented on Bwog.

  46. CC '14er

    Here's what I think could have happened:
    1) the documents/letters Spec found were created by one or a few CU republicans as a possibility, and thus the general group technically did not legit have any plans to invite Ahmadinejad
    2) somebody was being a troll and decided to 'leak' out fake documents to Spec
    3) the troll was someone in either Spec or CU Republicans. In the first case the documents could have been fabricated or misinterpreted to give Spec a big story to run, and in the second case to give the CUCR some publicity
    4) CUCR was really planning on inviting Ahmadinejad. Which I don't think is the case but could be a possibility of a bad decision that CUCR is now trying to cover up.
    Anyway, I think this particular case doesn't exactly "tarnish" Spec's or CUCR's reputation if people stop making such a big deal out of it. It could be a case of misunderstanding, or of a few individuals in either group causing a bit of mischief. Whatever it is, I really don't think it's a cause for all the bias and slandering that seems to be dominating BWOG and Spec tonight.

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