Category: Campus News

In response to pressure from groups on campus, Columbia President Lee Bollinger issued a statement early this morning regarding President Trump’s recent executive order regarding immigration policy. The full statement is below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

With the executive order issued by President Trump barring admission to the United States of Syrian refugees and imposing a 90-day ban on all immigrant and nonimmigrant entry from seven Muslim-majority nations, the fear so many have had about federal policies being changed in ways that could affect our community has become disturbingly real.

The public controversy and legal debate over the President’s order is intense.  Among the many strong petitions and compelling statements that have been issued is one from the Association of American Universities (AAU), of which Columbia is a member.  We join with many peers in decrying this action as discriminatory, damaging to America’s leadership in higher education, and contrary to our nation’s core values and founding principles.

At a practical level, we are advising community members and visiting scholars from the designated countries to suspend plans for international travel.  At the moment, we do not know of any Columbia students, faculty, or staff from the seven designated countries who are currently abroad.  In the meantime, we urge anyone seeking further guidance to contact our International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).

At a more fundamental level, this order undermines the nation’s continuing commitment to remain open to the exchange of people and ideas.  We must not underestimate the scale of its impact.  An estimated 17,000 international students in the U.S. are from the seven nations covered by the entry ban.  Scholars planning to travel to the United States for meetings and conferences at our colleges and universities will effectively be barred from attending.  If this order stands, there is the certainty of a profound impact on our University community, which is committed to welcoming students, faculty, and staff from around the world, as well as across the nation.

As I have said on many occasions, it is critically important that the University, as such, not take stands on ideological or political issues.  Yet it is also true that the University, as an institution in the society, must step forward to object when policies and state action conflict with its fundamental values, and especially when they bespeak purposes and a mentality that are at odds with our basic mission.  This is such a case.
   
It is important to remind ourselves that the United States has not, except in episodes of national shame, excluded individuals from elsewhere in the world because of their religious or political beliefs.  We have learned that generalized fears of threats to our security do not justify exceptions to our founding ideals.  There are many powerful and self-evident reasons not to abandon these core values, but among them is the fact that invidious discrimination often adds fuel to deeply harmful stereotypes and hostility affecting our own citizens. 

It is with regret that I have to send this communication. 

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger

In an email to students, Dean James Valentini has shared that Daniel Andreotti, a first-year Columbia College, has passed away. Andreotti passed away after being taken to the hospital. His family was able to be with him and noted that his death was not intentional. The full email can be found below.

As we enter a new semester, we think it is important to share resources available on campus to members of the Columbia community. There will be a space for students to talk and decompress tonight between 7 and 9PM in the Hartley Sky Lounge.

Student Resources:

Email from Dean James Valentini:

Dear Students:

There are no words to express the profound grief I feel as I write to tell you that Daniel Andreotti, a first-year Columbia College student from Ames, Iowa, died last night after being taken to the hospital on Thursday.

Daniel’s family was able to travel to New York to be with him. They asked me to convey that Daniel’s death was not intentional, nor was it the result of a public health concern. They also asked that I share this message with you:

“Daniel was a happy guy with immense intellectual curiosity who thoroughly enjoyed the learning and discussion of ideas that the Columbia community (teachers, fellow students, and the city) offered. He would want to be remembered with a smile, not a tear, and with no regrets from those who knew him. Please take much care of yourselves, and if you need to, talk with a counselor.”

In times like this, it is often helpful to be with others. I invite you to gather in the Hartley Hall tenth floor lounge from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight with staff from Counseling and Psychological Services, Residential Life, and the Office of the University Chaplain, or to gather in any other space that brings you comfort. You can also reach out to the many people who are here to support you.

I am deeply concerned about the impact of these recent deaths on our community. When I meet with student leaders this week, we will discuss how we can continue to enhance student support and provide the highest level of care for students. I am fully committed to working across the University to ensure the health and well-being of our campus.

I extend my heartfelt condolences to Daniel’s family and friends, and to our community at large. My thoughts are with all of you.

Sincerely,

James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc:  Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
Resources

In a press release today, Columbia has announced outgoing Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will begin teaching as a Visiting Professor at SIPA starting next month.

The full press release can be found below:

Columbia University announced that outgoing Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew would be joining its School of International and Public Affairs faculty as a visiting professor in February. He will lecture, teach graduate students, and work with faculty members at the school and across the University on the subjects of international economics, fiscal and trade policy, and a range of other public policy issues.

“As a school committed to the highest level of both academic scholarship and producing leaders in public policy and international relations, we are delighted to have someone with Secretary Lew’s unique government leadership experience join us,” said Dean Merit E. Janow, herself a former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative who later served as one of the seven members of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body. “At a time when we are all concerned with issues of global economic growth, trade and finance, our federal budget, tax system and the challenge of creating economic opportunity, Jack Lew brings insights borne of years of experience from the academy and the most senior decision making roles in the US and global economy.”

“Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs is central to the university’s mission of applying scholarly expertise and practical experience to understanding the world and addressing its problems,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “Our university community is better able to serve that mission when we welcome leaders like Secretary Lew who possess deep first-hand knowledge about the workings of the U.S. government and international institutions. He will be an invaluable addition to our faculty, and an asset for our students who will benefit greatly from all that he has to teach them.”

“SIPA is at the forefront of tackling critical policy challenges facing the global community. I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my experience with talented young people who aspire to engage in the world of public policy and international affairs. I am impressed with the strength of Columbia’s faculty, students and thought leadership and look forward to making a contribution to the education of a new generation of leaders,” said Jacob J. Lew.

Secretary Lew has led the Treasury Department since 2013. He took office as the U.S. economy was struggling to regain its footing after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He helped lead the U.S. economy to its current foundation of economic growth and declining unemployment.

Prior to serving as Treasury Secretary, Lew was White House Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position he also held from 1998 to 2001. As White House Chief of Staff, Lew advised the President on issues from politics to policy. Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, initially as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Lew served as a managing director and chief operating officer at Citigroup, and executive vice president and chief operating officer of New York University, where he was also a professor of public administration.

As OMB Director from 1998 to 2001, Lew led the Clinton Administration’s budget team and served as a member of the National Security Council. He was Special Assistant to the President from 1993 to 1994.

Lew began his career in Washington in 1973 as a legislative aide. From 1979 to 1987, he was a principal domestic policy advisor to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr.

A graduate of Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center, Lew is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Social Insurance. His appointment will begin on February 1, 2017.

In an email sent to members of the Columbia community earlier today, the University has confirmed the passing of Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen from an apparent suicide. Chen, an exchange student from Waseda University in Japan had been a part of Columbia College. The full email from James Valentini, Dean of Columbia College can be found below:

As we enter a new semester, we think it is important to share resources available on campus to members of the Columbia community:

Student Resources:

Email from Dean James Valentini:

 

Dear Students,

With a heavy heart, I am writing to let you know about the loss of a member of our community. Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen, an exchange student at Columbia College from Waseda University in Japan, has died in an apparent suicide.

We have begun reaching out to Mia’s friends and classmates whom we could identify to provide support and assistance during this difficult time. Whether or not you knew Mia, you may wish to gather with other community members. We have set up a space for reflection and conversation from 7-9 p.m. on Broadway 14th floor East and McBain Main Lounge.

This is an especially difficult time for all of us. As you know, we mourned the loss of another Columbia College student in December. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisers, your Residential Life staff, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of the University Chaplain, your faculty members, and family and friends for support.

The following resources are available to you:

  • The Broadway Residence Hall 14th Floor East Lounge and the McBain Main Lounge will be open as gathering spaces from 7-9 p.m. today. Staff from Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of University Chaplain, and Residential Life will be in attendance. Anytime before 7 p.m., staff from Residential Life will also be available in Broadway 103 for drop-in visits.
  • In addition to their regular hours, Counseling and Psychological Services (212-854-2878) will offer extended walk-in hours:
    • 5-10 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in the CPS office in Broadway Hall
    • All day today and tomorrow until 10 p.m. on the fifth floor of Lerner Hall
  • The Office of the University Chaplain (212-854-1493) in Earl Hall and St. Paul’s Chapel will be open until 10 p.m. for individual or group counseling.
  • Your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising (212-854-6378) are available to talk with you about any concerns.
  • You can seek support from Residential Life staff at any time, who may connect you with additional resources.

I know that all of you join me in sending our deepest condolences to Mia’s family and friends.

Sincerely,
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc: Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Resources

 

In an email sent to students earlier today, Provost John Coatsworth notified students and teaching assistants behind the University’s rationale in challenging the vote to decide whether Teaching Assistants should unionize that was overwhelmingly supported by eligible voters based on its results.

The full email can be found below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Last month, after an election to determine whether Columbia’s research and teaching assistants will be represented by the United Auto Workers, the University formally asked the National Labor Relations Board to examine whether certain actions by union representatives and Board agents responsible for supervising the election improperly affected the election outcome. I am writing to explain why we did so.

All of us have chosen to be part of this community because we value different viewpoints and believe that individual rights matter. Actions that could intimidate voters or create the impression of surveillance, such as installing a camera operated by union supporters just steps from the polling place in Earl Hall, are inconsistent with these basic values and violate NLRB election rules. In addition, the NLRB Regional Office’s reversal regarding the presentation of identification at the polls (first requiring, then encouraging, then ultimately not even allowing poll watchers to request IDs), not only created confusion but had the likely effect of allowing ineligible voters to vote, while forcing eligible voters to cast challenged ballots. Students arrived at Earl Hall only to be told that their names already had been checked off as having voted there.

If there were a means to protect voters’ rights and compliance with NLRB rules without filing objections with the NLRB, or, for that matter, if students troubled by these violations and others during the election were able to raise their concerns directly with the NLRB, we could have considered a different course. However, those alternatives do not exist: Under the National Labor Relations Act, our filing of objections is the sole available recourse for ensuring compliance with rules governing the election and to speak on behalf of student voters who have no independent voice in the process. The NLRB has responded to our filing by recognizing that the objections we raised, “if true, could have affected the outcome of the election and would, therefore, warrant setting aside the election.” The Board has scheduled a hearing in this matter later in the month.

I want to be clear that the University has taken this action mindful of concerns that extend beyond the outcome of last month’s election and the manner in which it was conducted. Our academic community may be operating within a new and very different framework for engaging with research and teaching assistants and for preparing them to have careers as scholars, the latter being one of our core functions as a university. That new framework would be governed by federal law and by the National Labor Relations Board.

In this setting, the prevailing rules must be scrupulously observed by all parties if we are to reach fair outcomes and effectively support all of our teaching and research assistants. As I said on many occasions before and after last month’s election, we will continue to strive so that Columbia remains a place where every student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment. The actions taken by the University since the election should be understood as consistent with, and essential to that commitment.

Sincerely,

John H. Coatsworth

Provost