PrezBo's thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

PrezBo’s thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

It’s a big year for Columbia; holding all the town halls and working on changes for many different ways in which the school operates. Joe Milholland, our trusted Columbia Administration reporter, gives us the talking points from Thursday’s USenate Plenary.

“I know there’s a debate about freedom of speech on the campus,” said PrezBo at Thursday’s USenate Plenary as he gave his opening remarks. While admitting that “the first amendment does not apply to Columbia – it’s a private institution,” he also said he wants to “embrace” freedom of speech “as defined by the first amendment” on campus. Prezbo wants rules that are “consistent with the history of Columbia, consistent with our values, consistent with where other great universities are at this point.”

Prezbo said that sexual assault on campus is “a set of issues we want to attend to in all their dimensions.” Law School student senator Zila Acosta said that PACSA will give a report to the senate in Spring. “One of the things we’re looking at is what type of info the senate would like to see from PACSA,” she said. Columbia College Usenator Marc Heinrich is on the Forum Subcommittee, which focuses on how PACSA “is going to be communicating with the community” to make sure voices from the community are heard, and the Communication Subcommittee, which focuses on communicating to the community what PACSA is doing.

Other Updates:

  • Christopher Riano, co-chair of the rules of conduct committee, said that he has heard from the three town halls so far, “a strong desire for the committee to decide to undergo a review and rewriting of” the rules of university conduct. “The committee will most likely decide at our next meeting on a vote on whether we will engage in writing proposals for the rules of university conduct; however, I can never promise that because I am only one of 15 members,” Riano said.
  • Epidemiology professor Ian Lipkin from the School of Public Health gave a talk about Ebola and Columbia. He wants to continue research in west Africa on infectious diseases, and he mentioned that, in his time doing research at Columbia, Columbia’s been involved in 10 infectious diseases. It takes three days for the Ebola virus to become detectable. There is no cure, only supportive treatment to prevent live and kidney failure. Columbia has held a design contest to combat Ebola. Eight of the submissions received an initial fund of $150 and were given more money later.
  • Howard Worman, Chair of the Committee on External Relations, told the senate that, in real dollars, funding has been flat from ’09-’13. This is about a 10% drop in funding when accounting for inflation. The university is lobbying the federal government for more funding money. In some departments, much of the money comes from funding. He also mentioned that “the committee seemed a little bit burned out on smoking policy.”

Beautiful campus view via Shutterstock