Asking Bollinger to ‘Walk the Walk’ in ‘The New York Times’

October 23, 2006

An article in Sunday’s edition of The New York Times contrasted Columbia President Lee Bollinger’s reputation as a First Amendment scholar with the rapidly growing perception of Columbia as a campus that stifles students’ fundamental freedoms.

The article by Karen Arenson and Tamar Lewin pointed out that Columbia has been involved in four separate free-speech disputes in just the past month: over the language in a hockey club’s flier; the retraction of an invitation to the president of Iran to speak on campus; the use of an ideological litmus test by Teachers College; and the violent melee that shut down a speech by the founder of the Minuteman Project.

While some sources in the article praised Bollinger’s reactions to the recent controversies that have plagued his campus, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff had a different point of view, stating:

Bollinger definitely knows how to say the right things about free speech, but the question is whether he can walk the walk.

FIRE is waiting for a response from President Bollinger regarding our second letter concerning the current policy at Teachers College. We hope he chooses to “walk the walk” and lives up to his reputation as a scholar of freedom of expression.

Schools:  Columbia University

Cases:  Columbia University: Hockey Club Punished for ‘Offensive’ Flyer Columbia University: Ideological Litmus Tests at Teachers College