Columbia University: Faculty Academic Freedom Debate

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Columbia University

Allegations of anti-Semitism in Columbia’s Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department prompted a letter from the NYCLU addressing faculty academic freedom rights. However, this letter neglected the rights of students and others within the university to, for example, protest dissent from even that which remains protected under notions of academic freedom. In response, FIRE sent a letter to the president of Columbia fully addressing the rights of all interested parties. FIRE received a reply affirming the rights of all parties.

  • Inquiring Minds

    April 15, 2005

    By John Gravois at The Chronicle of Higher Education One morning a few weeks back, David A. Sandoval was sitting in his office at Colorado State University at Pueblo and speaking to a local reporter on the telephone. The reporter had called to get the Chicano-studies professor’s opinion on Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado at Boulder professor who had recently tripped the switch of national outrage by calling the victims of the World Trade Center bombings “little Eichmanns.” In the firebrand’s defense, Mr. Sandoval offered the standard-issue rhetoric of academic freedom: Mr. Churchill’s words were hurtful and terrible, yes, but […]

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  • Bollinger Unlikely To Put Restrictions on Political Bias in Classroom

    April 11, 2005

    Columbia University’s president, Lee Bollinger, is unlikely to impose restrictions on political bias in the classroom, according to a professor familiar with the situation. Instead, Mr. Bollinger’s strategy in dealing with complaints about politicized teaching appears to rely on revamped procedures for handling student grievances and the hiring of additional faculty members with different viewpoints. “The administration will probably refrain from any steps that would be seen as trying to dictate what any professor says in the classroom,” a professor of Middle Eastern history and a former director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute, Richard Bulliet, said last week. Mr. Bollinger’s […]

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  • Outsiders Respond To Ad Hoc Report

    April 11, 2005

    The March 31st report on the controversy surrounding Middle East studies had some strong words for outside organizations that have inserted themselves into the debate, but that hasn’t kept those organizations silent. In the week and a half since the release of the ad hoc faculty committee’s report on students’ allegations of classroom intimidation, groups from the David Project to the New York Civil Liberties Union have responded with a mixture of criticism and spin. While the content of their reactions has varied widely, the uniform intensity with which they have responded indicates how firmly the issue has been seized […]

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  • A Free-Speech War

    March 11, 2005

    On February 15, The New York Sun, in a front-page story, reported: “A Columbia University professor who has called Israel a ‘racist’ state with an ‘apartheid system,’ and who has supported attacks by Palestinian Arabs on Israelis, is scheduled to lecture a group of New York City public school teachers on how to teach Mideast politics to schoolchildren. “The professor, Rashid Khalidi, is director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. His professorship is named in memory of Edward Said, a divisive scholar, and is paid for in part with a donation from the United Arab Emirates.” Three days […]

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  • Academic Freedom For Some

    March 4, 2005

    When it comes to the basic protections of due process and academic freedom, it often appears that students and professors live in two worlds – one world for those who follow the current academic political orthodoxy and another for those who dissent.  Take for example, two untenured professors at major universities, Joseph Massad of Columbia and Thomas Klocek of Depaul. Many FrontPage readers are undoubtedly familiar with Professor Massad.  Extensively discussed in the documentary “Columbia Unbecoming” and in national media reports, Professor Massad has been quoted as comparing Israelis to Nazis and Prime Minister Sharon’s cultural views to those of […]

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  • N.Y. School Board Bans a Controversial Arab Professor

    February 25, 2005

    A pro-Palestinian professor at Columbia University, hailed by some Jewish students as a model instructor, is being barred by the New York City Department of Education from lecturing public-school teachers. A spokesman for the school board attributed the move against Rashid Khalidi, the Arab-American director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute, to “past statements” on the Middle East. Khalidi “should not have been included” in a 12-week course for public-school teachers on teaching about the Middle East — and “he won’t be participating in the future,” the spokesman said. The school board’s decision was praised by some New York lawmakers with […]

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  • Defining Free Speech

    February 18, 2005

    Four months after The David Project released Columbia Unbecoming, Columbia is embroiled in a public fight over allegations against the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department. The latest, longer version of the film includes more examples of what it sees as “bias,” “intimidation,” and “harassment.” While The David Project and its supporters have every right to protest and expose perceived abuses at Columbia, it is essential for all involved to understand that nothing described in the film constitutes either harassment or intimidation in any formal sense.   Harassment is a badly abused term in higher education. For decades […]

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  • Speaker Discusses MEALAC And Academic Freedom

    February 11, 2005

    Open discourse on the controversy in Columbia’s Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures department regarding academic freedom continued Thursday night with the appearance of civil rights leader Michael Meyers on campus.   Meyers addressed a small group of Columbians on “Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Free Speech in the Academy” in Hamilton Hall. A native of Harlem, Meyers is currently a member of the board of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. He is the former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union and assistant director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and is the […]

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  • Ad Hoc Sessions on Freedom of Speech Controversy Begin

    January 21, 2005

    Today, and every Monday and Friday until late February, the ad hoc faculty committee founded in response to the controversy surrounding Columbia’s Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department will meet to try to find out just what went wrong. Columbia’s MEALAC department entered the national spotlight because of Columbia Unbecoming, a film produced by the Boston-based Zionist group The David Project. The film alleged continued discrimination against pro-Israel students, but the debate that the film inspired between groups of students and defenders of MEALAC has broadened to encompass larger issues of freedom of speech and academic freedom. Now, […]

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  • Free Speech in Class Under Fire at Columbia

    January 21, 2005

    NEW YORK — There’s a battle going on at Columbia University (search) over freedom of speech in the classroom.   The debate began with a documentary film called “Columbia Unbecoming” that said professors in the Ivy League school’s department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures harassed pro-Israel students.   The New York Civil Liberties Union (search) supported the professors in a letter written to the university president, saying “students have the right to express their own views [but] it is not, except at the invitation of the professor, an open forum for students to express any views they wish at […]

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  • Democracy on Campus

    January 20, 2005

    FIRE’s involvement at Columbia University was featured on the January 20, 2005, edition of “FOX Report.”

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  • Intimidated Classrooms

    January 18, 2005

    The New York Civil Liberties Union has blundered into the growing controversy at Columbia University about charges by students in Middle East studies (MEALAC) that they are bullied and silenced in classrooms by certain professors who are vehemently anti-Israel. Professors have the right to compare Sharon with Goebbels or to declare Israel not to be a legitimate state—but do dissenting students have no academic freedom to question those professorial views in class? The NYCLU says that’s up to the professor.   These charges by students first gained wide publicity in a film, Columbia Unbecoming, produced by the David Project in […]

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  • Pro-Israel Students Seek Reprieve from Profs’ Alleged Anti-Semitic Bias

    January 18, 2005

    (AgapePress) – Professors in the Middle East studies department at Columbia University are being accused of anti-Semitism and ideological bias.   A new documentary film produced by a group called the “David Project” claims Columbia’s department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) is rife with anti-Israel professors who attempt to bully and indoctrinate students with their political agenda. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union has written a letter to Columbia president Lee Bollinger on behalf of the accused faculty, arguing the professors “must retain broad latitude to think as they will and to write as […]

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  • Academic Freedom Group Enters Fray

    January 11, 2005

    The New York Civil Liberties Union came under sharp criticism yesterday from another civil-liberties group, which says it is sanctioning censorship in the classroom at Columbia University.   Last month, the NYCLU warned Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, that students and others who have accused faculty members of intimidating students were waging an “assault” on academic freedom. The NYCLU, the New York State affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, also questioned the right of students to challenge faculty members in the classroom.   The group’s dismissal of the student claims brought it a scolding from a prominent academic-freedom watchdog group, […]

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  • Sexton Takes On Issues of Tenure, Academic Freedom

    December 3, 2004

    Proving to be one of the most outspoken university presidents in the nation, John Sexton of New York University has seized upon two hotly debated issues in higher education: tenure and academic freedom. As he presses forward with a plan to create a cadre of full-time teachers who would be ineligible for permanent faculty appointments, Mr. Sexton, former dean of NYU’s law school, is redefining the traditional notion of tenure at research universities – in a way that has alarmed some advocates of the tenure system. In re-examining tenure, Mr. Sexton, 62, has also issued a comprehensive assessment of academic […]

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  • Columbia Embroiled in Academic Freedom Controversy; FIRE Defends Student Expression

    January 11, 2005

    NEW YORK, January 11, 2005—For the last few months, Columbia University has been debating charges of anti-Semitism that have been leveled against professors in the university’s department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC). The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) entered the debate with a letter that defended the MEALAC faculty and argued that students had dramatically limited rights to dissent from campus orthodoxy. Now, at the request of members of the Columbia community, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has weighed in with a letter reminding Columbia President Lee Bollinger that academic freedom is […]

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