Tag: university life

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

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.