Category: Columbia

Following up a previous email from Professor Goldberg, the University Provost has emailed students to make them aware of the Rules of University Conduct, likely related to recent protests of speakers invited to campus by CUCR.

In particular, he notes that students actively disrupting speakers are subject to being disciplined, confirming reports noted by Zack Abrams (CC ’21).

 

The full email can be found below.

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

 

As President Bollinger made clear in his Commencement Address last May, freedom of speech is a core value of our institution. The University is committed to defend the right of all the members of our community to exercise their right to invite, listen to, and challenge speakers whose views may be offensive and even hurtful to many of us. It is the duty of every member of the community to help preserve freedom of speech for all, including protesters.

 

This duty does not evaporate when the freedom we enjoy protects community members who invite speakers made famous by grotesquely unfounded and unethical attacks on people whose presence at Columbia, and in the surrounding Harlem community, contribute so much to the diversity that makes us great.

 

Two years ago, after broad consultation, the Columbia Board of Trustees adopted amended “Rules of University Conduct” to protect freedom of speech for invited speakers and their audiences, as well as for protesters. Since a number of controversial speakers are already scheduled to come to Columbia in the coming weeks and months, it may be helpful for members of the community, especially students, to keep the following points in mind.

 

  • It is a violation of the Rules of University Conduct to interrupt, shout down, or otherwise disrupt an event.
  • It is also a violation to obstruct the view of the speaker with banners or placards.
  • Individuals engaged in disruption will be asked to identify themselves by a Delegate or Public Safety Officer; it is an additional violation of the Rules to refuse to do so.
  • Delegates or Public Safety Officers will request that individuals stop disrupting (e.g., stop shouting, sit down, move to another location); individuals who fail to comply promptly with such a request may be subject to interim sanctions up to and including suspension by the Provost for the rest of the semester.
  • On receiving reports of a violation of the Rules of University Conduct, the Rules Administrator will investigate to determine whether a Rules violation may have occurred. The Rules Administrator may meet with students or others involved in a disruption to determine if an informal resolution is possible.
  • If informal resolution is not possible, the disciplinary process will continue with the Rules Administrator filing a formal complaint with the University Judicial Board. That Board will follow the procedures specified in the Rules of Conduct. Repeated violations of the Rules of Conduct will be subject to greater penalties.

 

More detailed information on University free speech policies and procedures is now available on the website of the Office of University Life.

 

John H. Coatsworth

Starting next week, late night package service will be available thanks to Columbia Mail’s new package offerings. Students will be able to send in a request by 3PM on the day their package arrives and request for it to be left in one of the 28 new lockers in the basement of Wien Hall. With this new option, students will be able to pick up their package after the Package Center closes meaning students with high priority items will not need to be stressed if they could not grab their package in time.

The full email can be found below:

Located on the lower level of Wien Hall, lockers will be available upon request starting Monday, October 16. How it works:

  • Lockers are accessible only when the Student Mail Center is closed.
  • Locker space is limited and so usage is prioritized for critical needs, such as:
    • medication (non-perishable only, lockers are not refrigerated)
    • time-sensitive materials (e.g. employment documents, identification)
    • items of high value (e.g. cell phone, laptop)
  • There are 28 lockers in total, the largest being 22x16x13.5 (LxWxH). Over-sized packages are not eligible for lockers.
  • To request a locker, students should reply to the email notification received when mail or a package has arrived.
  • Lockers cannot be reserved for mail or packages before they are received and processed at the Student Mail Center.
  • Students that are unable to reach high or bend down should indicate that a mid-level locker is needed.
  • The email request must be received by 3:00 p.m. the day the locker is needed in order to be considered.
  • By 5:00 p.m., Student Mail will send a confirmation email with a 6-digit pin to open the locker.
  • If the item is not picked up by 9:00 a.m. the following morning, the item will be removed from the locker and returned to the Student Mail Center for pick up. The student will not receive further email notifications.

As the Columbia University College Republicans prepare to host Tommy Robinson, a speaker known for his inflammatory remarks for a talk about “Europe and mass immigration,” Professor Goldberg, the head of University Life, has emailed students explaining the University’s rationale for allowing speakers such as Robinson.

The full email can be found below:

Dear Students,

There is much in the news about contentious speakers on campuses around the country, including our own. And while some students welcome these debates, others raise serious concerns about the negative impact of white supremacists and others who express hostile and derogatory views on race, religion and gender. These kinds of messages, as you know, contradict Columbia’s core commitment to the value of all members of our community and to diversity among our students, faculty and staff, as President Bollinger has often made clear.

Against this backdrop, here’s an abbreviated explanation of why the University allows student organizations to invite speakers whose views conflict so directly with our institutional values:  It is foundational to Columbia’s learning and teaching missions that we allow for the contestation of ideas. This includes expression of ideas that are deeply unpopular, offensive to many in our community, contrary to research-based understandings, and antagonistic to University tenets.

Without this policy, the University would be in a position of deciding which views our community should hear and which it should not. Perhaps needless to say, there is often not consensus about when speakers cross the line into being impermissible. Having University officials decide which ideas outside speakers can express on campus also poses serious risks to academic freedom.

Still, when white supremacist, anti-Muslim and similar speakers come to campus, Columbia has an important responsibility to make clear our values:  that we reject those views and maintain our commitment to fostering a vibrant community founded on the fundamental dignity and worth of all of our members, as our nondiscrimination statement provides. We also support research, teaching and other opportunities for community members and the public to learn more about the deep flaws in these speakers’ views. And our Rules of University Conduct, while protecting these speakers’ right to speak without disruption, also strongly protect protesters in expressing their views.

In the coming weeks, you will have opportunities to participate in campus conversations and also learn more about these issues, including at Awakening Our Democracy: Free Speech on Campus on November 1 (register here). If you have additional ideas for how we might strengthen our efforts to reject the messages of these speakers, short of barring student organizations from inviting them to campus, I welcome your sharing them.

Yours truly,

Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg
Executive Vice President for University Life
Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law

In addition to tonight’s talk, several students groups are hosting alternate events from Columbia University Democrats to various direct protests of the event.

For some students, today is the last day to drop a class without it appearing on your transcript. Still on the fence about whether to drop a class or two? Here’s some tips we’ve compiled from current upperclassmen about when to drop a course.

Your entire grade is the midterm and final. This is a recipe for disaster. We all think we’re going to study a week in advance and be super duper prepared for the exams, but everyone procrastinates. You’ll wait until the night before and all of a sudden realize half your grade’s on the line, and since there was no homework, you actually know nothing – seriously, don’t do this to yourself. Leave while you still can.

You have no friends who are taking the class. This is more of a gray area – you can either decide to make new friends (the horror!) or drop the class. There will come a time, usually around midnight the night before the first homework assignment is due, when you will sorely regret not having anyone to go to. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when – do yourself a favor and see what else is there.

 Your professor hasn’t cracked a joke in the first lecture. I’m not saying all professors have to be stand-up comedians all semester, but a professor that isn’t remotely interesting is going to make it very hard to go to lectures. If your professor hasn’t predicted attendance is going to nosedive, or told a joke at his/her expense, it’s only going to go downhill from there. Unless it’s a graduation requirement that you have to take this semester, leave.

Caveat: sometimes professors will try to lure you in with crafty jokes the first lecture, then head straight for Boresville – by this point in the semester, you should know if the class is all it’s cracked up to be.

Your professor interrupts him/herself mid-sentence. Anyone giving off the air of being senile or perhaps not quite all there should definitely be reconsidered. Disorganized lectures are the bane of any college student’s existence, resulting in notes that are half-finished and moving on to a random tangent. If you can’t follow the professor because they’re not speaking in fluid and/or full sentences, you’re pretty much doomed.

Addendum to the above: your professor speaks broken English/has an unintelligible accent. It’s not that we’re trying to be mean. Sometimes it’s genuinely impossible to understand the professor. Pull the ripcord on that one – it’s not going anywhere good.

Photo Courtesy of Columbia University.

Welcome back Columbia! From all of us at the Columbia Lion and from here at Uniquely Human, we hope all your summers were fruitful and relaxing. As we get back into the swing of classes, I wanted to write an update on the future of this column and what to expect going forward. First and foremost, Uniquely Human will be continuing its regular release schedule of every other Monday, starting today, so expect a new release two weeks from today.

As a neuroscience student here, I hear about all the impressive, exciting, and paradigm-shifting research coming out of Columbia labs. But no matter how interesting the research, many average Columbia students don’t know what’s coming out of their own institution. Scientists often only share their research in journals aimed solely at other scientists in their subfields. The most interesting conversations about neuroscience are ones that neuroscientists have with each other.

I want to change that.

This is your university, and this research is mostly paid for with your tax dollars. I think you have a right to understand what discoveries in neuroscience are coming out of Columbia, and how they may affect your lives in fascinating and surprising ways.

I believe the best kind of science happens when it’s in communication with the public. In these tumultuous times, now more than ever it’s critical that everyone knows what valuable contributions neuroscientists are making to how we understand ourselves. I think these kinds of conversations are most interesting when they’re had across disciplinary lines – with other scientists, with writers, philosophers, artists – and you, reader, have a worthy perspective to contribute.

So this semester we’ll be thematically shifting our focus away from our series on education and the brain. In its place, I’ll be reviewing the latest and greatest discoveries coming out of Columbia neuroscience using straightforward language, hopefully humorous analogies, and with an eye for the big picture implications. When possible, I’ll be interviewing researchers directly to get the best information directly from the researchers to you.

As always, the contents of this column are mostly dependent on what I want to write, which means not every column will be about Columbia neuroscience discoveries; there will be stories relating neuroscience to both campus and worldwide events.

As always I am happy to take requests. This is only a column in conversation when I can hear your voice. If you have questions that you want answered from a neuroscientific point of view, I’ll do my best to answer them. I can’t wait to share this amazing research with you all, and I hope to see you here next week for our first true installment in our series.

Uniquely Human is written by Heather Macomber and runs every other Monday. To submit a comment/question or a piece of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com.