Columbia University

Location: New York, New York
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Columbia University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more

This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech.

Due Process Rating

Non-Sexual Misconduct

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F

Sexual Misconduct

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D

  • Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Procedures for Students

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 22, 2019

    Gender-based harassment can occur if a person is harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic of their gender or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, and that harassing conduct unreasonably interferes with a person’s education or particip... Read More
  • Equal Educational Opportunity and Student Nondiscrimination Policies and Procedures: Definitions

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 22, 2019

    Discriminatory Harassment Discriminatory harassment is defined as substantially interfering with an individual’s educational experience by subjecting him or her to severe or threatening conduct or to repeated humiliating or abusive conduct, based on his or her membership in a protected class. This includes sex... Read More
  • Undergraduate Student Life: Bias and Discrimination Response Protocol

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: October 22, 2019

    Hate crimes/ bias-related incidents involve behavior that is motivated by hostility to race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and expression, age, or disability. We understand the deep pain and consequence hate crimes and discrimination/bias-related actions have on our entire... Read More
  • Columbia University Email Usage Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: October 22, 2019

    No User of University email may take any of the following actions: … 3. Send nuisance email or other online messages such as chain letters; 4. Send obscene or harassing messages; … Read More
  • Essential Policies for the Columbia Community: Rules of University Conduct- Affirmative Statement

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 22, 2019

    The Rules of University Conduct, found in Chapter XLIV of the Statutes of Columbia University, are intended to ensure that all members of our community may engage in our cherished traditions of free expression and open debate. The University, as a forum for the pursuit and attainment of knowledge in every field of h... Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.

Grades

Non-Sexual Misconduct

F
3/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous

Sexual Misconduct

D
7/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous
  • Columbia University: Cancellation of Event Focusing on Rule of Law in Turkey

    April 8, 2019

    On April 4, Columbia University was set to host a panel discussion on the rule of law in Turkey. On April 1, the university informed participants that the event would be postponed to a later date. While some participants and organizers had expressed concerns about the makeup of the panel, multiple outlets reported that representatives… Read more

  • Columbia Law School: Threat to Punish Professor for ‘Hostile Environment’ Due to Exam Question

    September 6, 2011

    Professor George Fletcher, a renowned and respected legal scholar, taught an introductory criminal law class. In one exam, he presented his students with a hypothetical case-based in part on several real cases-that involved a woman who was grateful for a criminal assault that resulted in a miscarriage. Several faculty members and students objected to various… Read more

  • Columbia University: Hockey Club Punished for ‘Offensive’ Flyer

    December 27, 2006

    After intense public criticism, Columbia University revoked its semester-long suspension of the Men’s Ice Hockey Club. Columbia suspended the club for the semester—effectively canceling the club’s entire season—for posting recruiting flyers containing language that some found offensive. FIRE, along with other groups and individuals both within and outside the university, vociferously opposed Columbia’s attack on… Read more

  • Columbia University: Ideological Litmus Tests at Teachers College

    September 15, 2006

    Columbia University’s Teachers College requires students to demonstrate a “commitment to social justice” and  employs “dispositions,” which it defines as “observable behaviors that fall within the law and involve the use of certain skills,” to evaluate students. These dispositions, “expected of Teachers College candidates and graduates” and “assessed at each transition point,” include “Respect for… Read more

  • Columbia University: Faculty Academic Freedom Debate

    January 10, 2005

    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,… Read more

  • Columbia University: Violation of Due Process Rights in Sexual Misconduct Policy

    May 16, 2001

    Despite all of the fanfare surrounding Columbia University’s promulgation of a so-called "Sexual Misconduct Policy"-a policy touted as a "national model"-Columbia, under intense and broad public criticism, has silently altered the text of its scandalous assault on student rights and decencies. For instance, in the original policy, there was no recording or transcript made of… Read more

  • Don’t fall in love with the club that will be used to beat you over the head

    August 29, 2019

    It seems like every time a faculty member at a college or university says something controversial, someone responds with a public demand that the institution punish the professor. And way too often politicians are among the chorus of voices calling for punitive responses to unpopular expression. Sometimes they are even at the center of campaigns… Read more

  • Cancellation of Columbia University event on Turkey’s rule of law raises questions

    April 3, 2019

    UPDATE: On April 8, FIRE wrote to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger to ask the university to account for the cancellation of the April 4 panel and to provide an explanation of the nature of requests, if any, made by representatives of the Turkish government regarding the content or scheduling of the panel, and Columbia’s response to… Read more

  • Columbia to cover cost of controversial speakers

    February 2, 2018

    Earlier this week, the Columbia Spectator reported that Columbia University has agreed to cover security costs for controversial speakers invited to campus by student groups. This proactive step will help ensure that students will be able to hear from — and peacefully protest — speakers brought to campus. Other institutions would be wise to follow… Read more

  • In Suspending Wrestling Team for Private Messages, Columbia Goes Too Far

    November 16, 2016

    Columbia University has suspended its men’s wrestling team from competition pending an investigation of group text messages that were leaked to a student-run news website. This is different from the average college free speech case in that the students in question are student-athletes. It is generally accepted that student-athletes agree to some increased regulation of… Read more

  • Columbia Prohibits Recording Gender-Based Misconduct Hearings Despite Student Objections

    November 1, 2016

    In recent months, students and professors at Columbia University have spoken out against the institution’s prohibition on recording any part of its gender-based misconduct investigation and adjudication processes. Unfortunately for students seeking accountability and accuracy in campus hearings, the Columbia administration has stood its ground. The prohibition is stated in several Columbia documents. As The… Read more

  • Are Columbia’s Speech Codes’ Days Numbered?

    September 5, 2016

    True free speech may be on the horizon for students and faculty at Columbia University. After the University of Chicago’s recent letter to incoming students telling them not to expect “intellectual ‘safe spaces,’” Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger made similar remarks last Monday to Columbia’s latest incoming class. Columbia has been the subject of… Read more

  • In Ruling with Nationwide Significance, Second Circuit Vacates ‘Doe v. Columbia’ Decision

    July 29, 2016

    Today, in a ruling of nationwide importance, a federal appellate court gave a Columbia University student suspended for sexual misconduct a new shot at proving that the university denied him a fundamentally fair proceeding. While many students have sought to challenge the unfair processes that universities often use to adjudicate claims of sexual assault, such… Read more

  • Columbia’s Contradiction: University Adopts Free Speech Statement, Keeps Restrictive Speech Codes

    January 5, 2016

    Columbia University has joined a growing number of institutions in adopting a statement forcefully proclaiming the university’s commitment to unfettered free speech. An “Affirmative Statement” added this fall to Columbia’s Rules of University Conduct proclaims: The University, as a forum for the pursuit and attainment of knowledge in every field of human endeavor, has a… Read more

  • Now That It’s Being Sued, ‘Red Light’ Columbia Cozies Up to Free Speech

    September 1, 2015

    In an ironic twist, Columbia University—long branded a “red light” institution by FIRE for policies that restrict free speech on campus—asked a federal judge to dismiss a high-profile Title IX lawsuit against the university on Friday, invoking the First Amendment. Columbia cited its deep commitment to the ideals of free speech in arguing it could… Read more

  • Moral Dumbfounding: The Case Against Intuition

    August 10, 2015

    In a better-functioning world, individual opinions on contentious issues would be laid out in an organized fashion much like a court case. One side presents its argument, the other presents a rebuttal, and the victor is determined after thoughtful consideration. However, the inner court of the mind of college students does not always function the… Read more

  • This Is What a Broken System Looks Like

    April 28, 2015

    As has now been widely reported by the media, Paul Nungesser—the male student at the center of the Columbia University “mattress” case—has filed a federal lawsuit against the university. The Associated Press provides a useful summary of Nungesser’s claims: In his lawsuit, Nungesser said a Columbia-owned website had presented as fact that he sexually assaulted… Read more

  • Student Journalists Commit to Rigorous Reporting

    February 4, 2015

    Torch readers know that FIRE has been less than impressed with reckless or one-sided reporting, particularly on the issue of campus sexual assault. As I wrote yesterday, biased media coverage often serves as a catalyst for policy changes and legislation that threaten to deprive accused students of a fair hearing. It’s refreshing, therefore, to see… Read more

  • Public Presumption of Guilt Motivates Unfair Policies, Even as Details of Sexual Assault Allegations Come to Light

    February 3, 2015

    University students who claim that they were wrongly punished for alleged sexual assaults are increasingly fighting back, both in courts of law and in the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, questionable (or even debunked) narratives have already been used to justify policy changes and legislation that threaten the due process rights of accused students, while… Read more

  • Columbia Student Urges ‘Free-Speech Renewal’ in 2015

    December 31, 2014

    Columbia University junior Bryan Schonfeld has seen firsthand the unhealthy climate for speech on college campuses, and he describes some bewildering examples of students’ and administrators’ aversion to free expression in an article for the New York Daily News this week. Torch readers may recall that Columbia Law School was among the institutions that agreed… Read more

  • Columbia Students and Faculty Eye Policy Reform, But Should Focus on ‘Red Light’ Rating

    December 9, 2014

    Students and faculty members at Columbia University have recently been amping up their demands for reform of the university’s policies and practices regarding free speech on campus. Seeing this type of awareness and activism from members of a university community is encouraging, and we hope it prompts the Columbia administration to re-examine its approach to… Read more

  • Columbia University Student Points to ‘An attitude problem’

    May 8, 2013

    In an insightful piece published in the Columbia Spectator last week, Columbia University student Alessandra Poblador warns students not to conflate tact and positivity with self-censorship. She notes that the desire to be "politically correct" at times "stifles the freedom and elegance of expression." Perhaps more critically, though, she explains why the adjustments we make to… Read more

  • In Defending Free Speech, Bollinger’s Rhetoric Doesn’t Match Results

    March 22, 2012

    The American Constitution Society’s Harvard Law & Policy Review recently ran an engaging interview with Columbia University President Lee Bollinger in which Bollinger discusses free speech issues on both a national and global level. I recommend reading it in full.   At one point in the interview, HLPR asks Bollinger about the United States Court… Read more

  • Will Columbia University Students Respect Jim Gilchrist’s Right to Free Speech This Time?

    February 2, 2012

    Recent articles in the Columbia Spectator address the recently announced plans of the Columbia University College Republicans (CUCRs) to bring Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the controversial Minuteman Project, to speak at Columbia this spring. Given the melee that ensued when he spoke at Columbia in 2006 (also as a guest of the CUCRs), this… Read more

  • ‘Columbia Spectator’ Examines Student Rights at Columbia

    March 11, 2010

    A reflective opinion piece in the Columbia Spectator, published yesterday by student Derek Turner, examines the state of student rights at Columbia University and asks important questions about the range of rights and decision-making authority students should reasonably expect at Columbia. It is always a worthwhile exercise to assess whether one’s university is delivering on… Read more

  • More Unsavory Disinvitations: This Time, Nonie Darwish at Princeton and Columbia

    December 10, 2009

    More points were scored recently for the angry "heckler’s veto" when protesters (including at least one Princeton administrator) successfully pressured Nonie Darwish’s student hosts to cancel her speaking events at Princeton and Columbia universities. Darwish is Founder and Director of Former Muslims United. Darwish’s November 18, 2009, speech at Princeton was canceled the evening before… Read more

  • Former FIRE Intern Criticizes Columbia’s Speech Code and Bureaucracy

    September 21, 2009

    Former FIRE intern and Columbia student Noah Baron has another excellent post on the Columbia Spectator blog Commentariat (see the other here) about Columbia University’s egregiously repressive sexual harassment policies. During his time at FIRE, Noah learned about FIRE’s work on speech codes and privately conducted his own research into Columbia’s policies. He discovered policies… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE Keeps Up The Fight While Taking Message to Vegas and D.C.

    July 10, 2009

    FIRE has been busy taking its message to the streets this week, with Luke and I spending Wednesday signing up new CFN members at this year’s Campus Progress Conference in Washington, D.C., and Greg, Brandon, Alisha, and Adam jetting off to sunny Las Vegas for the annual FreedomFest Conference. Fortunately, with FIRE a bit short… Read more

  • FIRE Intern Examines Columbia’s Speech Codes, Calls for Rescission

    July 9, 2009

    FIRE intern Noah Baron has a post this week over at the Columbia Spectator‘s Commentariat blog discussing Columbia University’s shameful speech codes, recently profiled in FIRE’s review of US News & World Report‘s top 25 colleges and universities. In his post, “President Bollinger, Tear Down This Speech Code,” Noah writes: Columbia University has a number… Read more

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Columbia University

    May 11, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at Columbia University, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict free expression on campus…. Read more

  • Greg to Speak at Columbia Law School Today

    March 30, 2009

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will speak at Columbia Law School’s Jerome Green Hall (116th and Amsterdam) at 12:15 p.m. today. Greg’s speech, which is entitled "Unlearning Liberty," is hosted by former FIRE intern and current Columbia Law student Alanna Kaufman and the Columbia ACLU.

  • Silence From Teachers College

    April 16, 2008

    When Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman told FIRE last May that the school would be taking another look at the language used to describe its evaluative criteria, naturally we took her at her word. After all, we figured that Fuhrman likely became President of what is arguably our nation’s most prestigious education school by keeping… Read more

  • Nat Hentoff on Columbia and the First Amendment

    October 10, 2007

    In yesterday’s Village Voice, Nat Hentoff (a member of FIRE’s Board of Advisors) points out an ominous development in Columbia University’s invitation to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hentoff writes: Until now, I have not mentioned the free speech rallying cry, “the First Amendment,” because Columbia is a private university and the First Amendment doesn’t kick… Read more

  • Professor, Examine Thyself

    October 8, 2007

    Check out Peter Berkowitz’s op ed, “Ethics 101,” in today’s Wall Street Journal. In his article, Berkowitz points out that, while centers to study ethics exist at many campuses across the country, including some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, few spend much time examining ethical issues relating to higher education. He writes: Celebrating its… Read more

  • ‘Free Speech and Double Standards’

    October 3, 2007

    Be sure to check out Stuart Taylor’s hard-hitting piece in the National Journal on “Free Speech and Double Standards” in academia. With regards to Columbia’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Taylor points out: It would be easier to stomach the free-speech grandstanding of Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president and Ahmadinejad’s histrionically hostile host, and others of Bollinger’s ilk if… Read more

  • John Leo on Lee Bollinger

    September 28, 2007

    The indispensable John Leo has an insightful post over at Minding the Campus on Columbia President Lee Bollinger’s statement that Columbia University has a “long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate…” As Torch readers know and John Leo points out, “There is no such tradition, and very little debate at Columbia.”… Read more

  • Ahmadinejad at Columbia Wrapup

    September 25, 2007

    The reviews are in, and it seems that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not disappoint in his speech yesterday at Columbia University. After a hostile introduction from Columbia President Lee Bollinger, Ahmadinejad proceeded to call for more research on whether the Holocaust occurred and, in probably the most bizarre remark of the night, deny that… Read more

  • Ahmadinejad at Columbia Roundup

    September 24, 2007

    One of the top stories in the nation today is the speech that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just finished giving at Columbia University. Here’s an early report on the speech from FOXNews.com, and video of the speech is available on the front page. The Columbia Spectator has also been liveblogging the event. Yesterday, the AP… Read more

  • Columbia Nixes Speech by Minuteman Project Founder, Instead Invites Holocaust Denier

    September 20, 2007

    In the span of one day, Columbia University managed to once again demonstrate its strained relationship with freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas. Yesterday, Columbia cancelled a planned event featuring Jim Gilchrist, the Minuteman Project founder who was run off the stage by disruptive and violent protests last year, and then just today… Read more

  • Minuteman Founder to Speak at Columbia University

    September 18, 2007

    According to the Columbia Spectator, a student newspaper at Columbia University, Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist is slated to return to Columbia’s campus for a speaking engagement after last year’s speech was ended by a disruptive protest that turned violent. The incident last year was a real black eye for Columbia that garnered national media… Read more

  • Columbia President Gets Booed, But Does He Get It?

    August 30, 2007

    An editorial in the New York Post today drew attention to the booing and jeering Columbia President Lee Bollinger received at the August 15th Community Board 9 hearing in Harlem where Bollinger was making the case for Columbia’s proposed campus expansion. While Bollinger was visibly annoyed at the crowd—a YouTube video of the incident is… Read more

  • Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: Think Like Us—Or Else

    June 4, 2007

    We used today’s Campus Alert column in the New York Post to point out problems with Columbia University’s Teachers College student evaluation criteria, which includes the use of “dispositions” to evaluate its students. One such “disposition” the school uses is the student’s “Respect for Diversity and Commitment to Social Justice.” This may sound admirable at… Read more

  • ‘From the President’ in ‘The FIRE Quarterly’

    May 24, 2007

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s new column in the latest FIRE Quarterly explores how university administrators’ try to squelch student speech acting “like the censors of the Victorian era—morally infallible, plugged into absolute truth, and engaged in saving the country’s soul from incivility or impropriety. As Greg points out, FIRE’s recent cases at Johns Hopkins University,… Read more

  • Litmus Tests at Teachers College: Changes to Come?

    May 17, 2007

    Earlier this month, FIRE wrote Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman to remind her that FIRE hasn’t forgotten about her school’s use of ideological litmus tests to evaluate students. Torch readers will remember that Teachers College employs a set of “dispositions” to grade student performance. One of these dispositions—“Respect for Diversity and Commitment to Social Justice”—requires… Read more

  • ‘Spectator’: Three Students Censured for Columbia Protest

    March 30, 2007

    The Columbia Spectator reports that: The University has censured at least three students for their disruption of an Oct. 4, 2006 protest by Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist, one of the implicated students confirmed Tuesday. The disclosure, which came one day after it was revealed that three students had received lesser disciplinary warnings, signifies the… Read more

  • FIRE in the ‘Chronicle’ on Political Litmus Tests for Education Students

    March 26, 2007

    One of the ongoing scandals in higher education that FIRE has been keeping track of—and fighting—is the existence of political litmus tests at schools of education and social work across the country. And I don’t mean political litmus tests for professors, which is what most people think of when they think of bias in academia…. Read more

  • Dispositions in Teacher Education: Old Tricks, New Name

    March 14, 2007

    The Spring 2007 issue of Education Next features an excellent article on the widespread use of “dispositions” in teacher education. Authored by Kent State Professor Laurie Moses Hines, the article details how today’s “dispositions” are an updated version of the “mental hygiene” requirements widely utilized in teacher education between the 1930s and 1960s.   Hines’s… Read more

  • FIRE President to Address Free Speech at Columbia on Tuesday Night

    February 19, 2007

    Columbia University has arguably led the Ivy League in playing host to free speech controversies on campus over the last few years. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will discuss Columbia’s past and ongoing free speech abuses at a panel discussion tomorrow night on the Columbia campus. The panel, which begins at 8:00 pm in the Hamilton… Read more

  • Columbia to Punish Seven Students for ‘Minuteman Project’ Protest

    January 19, 2007

    Today’s New York Post reports that Columbia University has targeted seven students with disciplinary sanctions for their participation in a violent protest against a speech by Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist. Yesterday, Columbia’s student newspaper published a January 7 letter signed by Senior Vice Provost and Rules Administrator Stephen Rittenberg, which was sent to the… Read more

  • Columbia to Punish Violent Protestors

    January 4, 2007

    On December 22, Columbia President Lee Bollinger released a statement announcing the conclusion of the university’s investigation into the melee that erupted at the October 4 speech by Minutemen Project founder Jim Gilchrist. While Bollinger refrained from yielding much information—such as how many students are charged with violating the Rules of University Conduct and what… Read more

  • The Battle against Ideological Litmus Tests for Education Students: A Work in Progress

    December 29, 2006

    Freedom of conscience won a significant victory this year when the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), a leading accreditor of education schools, agreed under pressure from FIRE and other groups to drop its recommendation that education students demonstrate a belief in “social justice” in order to graduate. Many individual schools of… Read more

  • Bollinger Releases Statement on October’s Minutemen Protest

    December 22, 2006

    Today Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger released a statement addressing the violent student protest that erupted in the middle of a speech by the founder of the Minutemen Project on October 4th. The statement addresses, among other things, governance of student organizations and student-sponsored events, as well as disciplinary proceedings instituted against some of… Read more

  • Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee of Censorship Agree: We Hate FIRE!

    December 18, 2006

    Some say that you can judge a man by the enemies he makes. I don’t know if that holds true for organizations like FIRE, really, but if it does, I feel like we’re doing pretty well after reading this article from the December 12 New York Sun. The article, by Gabrielle Birkner, covers an “armchair… Read more

  • NYU President John Sexton: Free Speech Hypocrite

    December 11, 2006

    Inside Higher Ed carried a short blurb on Friday stating that NYU President John Sexton had been interviewed on the Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report.” FIRE had its own run-in with Sexton earlier this year, when NYU became the best-known college to censor a discussion of the Mohammed cartoons that roiled the world last… Read more

  • Why Are We So Afraid of Controversy?

    November 20, 2006

    According to an article in today’s New York Post, Brown University’s Hillel has rescinded a speaking invitation to Egyptian-born author Nonie Darwish after complaints from Brown’s Muslim Student Association. The Post’s Adam Brodsky writes:

  • FIRE Mentioned in ‘Mallard Fillmore’

    October 27, 2006

    Yesterday’s ‘Mallard Fillmore’ cartoon poked fun at Columbia’s recent suppression of free speech on its campus, especially regarding the school’s reaction to the violent student-led protest to a guest speaker earlier this month. The cartoon points viewers to FIRE’s website for more information on Columbia’s take on free speech, which is available here. Loyal Torch… Read more

  • NY Post: Columbia Is “A Dubious Neighbor”

    October 26, 2006

    An editorial in today’s New York Post blasts Columbia University for failing to address “one of the most brazen attacks on free speech and academic freedom in recent memory” in the three weeks since protestors disrupted a speech by Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist on campus. Indeed, as the Post editorial makes abundantly clear, nearly a month… Read more

  • FIRE in ‘The New York Times’ on Free Speech at Columbia

    October 23, 2006

    Columbia University’s recent struggles with free speech were covered in the pages of The New York Times on Sunday, with an article concentrating on questions about Columbia President Lee Bollinger’s commitment to free speech on campus. In the article, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff points out that while Bollinger’s public statements endorse free speech, questions remain… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • FIRE Responds To Teachers College

    October 19, 2006

    Yesterday, FIRE responded to the Oct. 11 letter written by Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman, which disputed FIRE’s characterization of Teachers College’s NCATE dispositions as “ideological litmus tests.” FIRE’s response, penned by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, argues that the solution is straightforward: “eliminate the use of impossibly vague and politically charged evaluative criteria.” Lukianoff writes:    FIRE asks only… Read more

  • Was What Happened at Columbia ‘Civil Disobedience’?

    October 19, 2006

    Yesterday’s Inside Higher Ed featured an article by Elizabeth Redden entitled “The Complications of Free Speech.” The story focuses on varying student and outside groups’ reactions to this month’s struggles over free speech on that campus, most prominently including the Minutemen incident where students stormed the stage to protest a controversial speaker, leading to a… Read more

  • ‘Hartford Courant’ Opines on Columbia Mishaps

    October 17, 2006

    An editorial in today’s Hartford Courant discusses the ongoing saga at Columbia University surrounding the student-led protest against Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist. According to the Courant, “this wasn’t an isolated show of intolerance” at Columbia, a university whose commitments to free speech have recently been called into question by FIRE and several members of… Read more

  • Columbia, Social Justice, and the Importance of Dissent

    October 17, 2006

    Last week, FIRE highlighted Teachers College’s social justice criterion, evoking responses from both critics and supporters of the school’s ideological stance. Yesterday Greg explained that the reform that FIRE seeks is not a wholesale rejection of Teachers College’s organizing principles of social justice and critical pedagogy. Rather, FIRE objects to the requirement that students adopt… Read more

  • At Columbia Teachers College, a Serious Problem with an Easy Solution

    October 16, 2006

    Reading some of the coverage of FIRE’s opposition to Columbia Teachers College’s “social justice” requirement, I believe there are a few important points that need to be emphasized. One is that the change FIRE is asking for is really rather modest. It simply isn’t right to have a policy that says that students must demonstrate… Read more

  • ‘Torch’ Reader Responds To Teachers College Controversy

    October 13, 2006

    Torch reader David Ross writes in with a useful take on the ideological litmus test controversy at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Responding to Teachers College President Susan Furhman’s letter to FIRE, Ross writes: I am impressed that President Fuhrman has written a response to FIRE. But I am not impressed with her logic. For example, she writes:… Read more

  • FIRE in the New York Post: Columbia’s Teachers College Enforces ‘Thought Control’

    October 12, 2006

    Be sure to check out FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Vice President Robert Shibley’s column about Columbia’s Teachers College in today’s New York Post.  The column is a potent statement of precisely what’s wrong with Teachers College’s evaluative policies: Bollinger and Teachers College need to understand that requiring students to hold certain beliefs is completely… Read more

  • Columbia Continues to Feel the Heat in the ‘Sun’

    October 12, 2006

    Columbia remains in the news this morning as the New York Sun runs two pieces about FIRE’s criticism of dispositions at Teachers College, Columbia’s school of education. In the first, Eliana Johnson reports on FIRE’s letter to Teachers College and includes reactions from members of the school’s community. The second piece, an editorial, takes issue… Read more

  • More Trouble at Columbia (Part 372)

    October 12, 2006

    Today, the Columbia Spectator reported that the University revoked invitations for nearly 100 off-campus guests of the College Republicans, just hours before the event the invitees were to attend took place. The College Republicans were hosting an event titled “From Hate to Love” featuring three former members of the Hitler Youth and the Palestinian Liberation… Read more

  • New York Civil Rights Coalition Joins FIRE’s Opposition to Thought Reform at Teachers College

    October 12, 2006

    Michael Meyers, the executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition (NYCRC), issued a passionate statement yesterday supporting FIRE’s objections to Columbia’s Teachers College’s expectation that its students subscribe to a nebulous definition of “social justice.” Meyers calls Columbia out in no uncertain terms, his statement declaring the primacy of individual thought and free… Read more

  • FIRE’s Challenge to Ideological Litmus Tests at Columbia’s Teachers College in the ‘New York Post’ and ‘Sun’

    October 12, 2006

    FIRE’s criticism of vague and politically loaded “social justice” requirements at Teachers College, the graduate school of education at Columbia University, has garnered attention in the New York media today. The New York Sun has an article on Teachers College’s policies and an editorial opining that such requirements exemplify how Columbia has forsaken merit for… Read more

  • Columbia on ‘The Daily Show’

    October 11, 2006

    Students who hadn’t heard about the Minutemen controversy now have—last night Jon Stewart ridiculed the Columbia protesters and their attack on free speech on The Daily Show. Tune in to Comedy Central tonight at 8 for a rerun of last night’s show.

  • Fresh Free Speech Disaster at Columbia: Teachers College Mandates Groupthink

    October 11, 2006

    When it rains, it pours—and as far as free speech controversies go, it’s monsoon season at Columbia University.   Following two consecutive weeks of widespread public criticism surrounding the University’s suspension of the Men’s Ice Hockey Club and the violent clash that shut down a speech by Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist on campus, Columbia is… Read more

  • Columbia Student Senate Committee Votes ‘Yea’ on Free Speech

    October 10, 2006

    According to an article in the Columbia Spectator, the University Senate’s student affairs committee unanimously approved a “Resolution on Free Speech at Columbia University” on Sunday. The Spectator quotes the resolution as reading, in part: [T]he Student Body of Columbia University has a right to invite speakers with varied points of view to campus, and… Read more

  • Free Speech has Long Been Endangered at Columbia

    October 10, 2006

    Given Columbia’s current free speech debacle, it is important to remember that the hockey and Minutemen controversies are not coincidental and isolated events; Columbia has a long and distinguished record of shameless suppression of free speech. One such event took place in November of 1998, when Accuracy in Academia (AIA) planned a conference on affirmative… Read more

  • Columbia University Ignores Objections to Thought Reform Amid Free Speech Controversy

    October 10, 2006

    NEW YORK, October 11, 2006—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling on Teachers College—Columbia University’s graduate school of education—to abandon its ideological litmus tests for students. These policies are manifestly inconsistent with Teachers College’s written promises of free speech and academic freedom as well as with Columbia President Lee Bollinger’s recent statements… Read more

  • Columbia University: The Hits Keep Coming

    October 9, 2006

    The fallout from last Wednesday’s Minuteman protest at Columbia University continues to elicit critical response from a wide variety of sources, not least among them New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In an article published in Saturday’s edition of The New York Times, Bloomberg expressed his displeasure with the protestors’ actions, calling the incident an “outrage.”… Read more

  • Protest Brawl at Columbia: Free Speech Loses

    October 6, 2006

    With the incredible volume of free speech controversies arriving seemingly daily from Columbia University, it’s reassuring to know that some members of the university community in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights remember what free speech is all about. The Columbia Spectator makes The Torch yet again this week, publishing a pair of dead-on commentaries regarding the violent… Read more

  • FIRE Weighs In with Op-Ed on Columbia Hockey Case

    October 6, 2006

    Check out today’s edition of the Columbia Spectator, for commentary from FIRE staffers Tara Sweeney and Chris Perez on the reduced punishment recently issued to the men’s ice hockey club for its “offensive” recruitment flyers. They call out Columbia for its failure to admit the real reason for the team’s reprimand: While we are pleased… Read more

  • Columbia Students Interrupt Conservative Speech with Chaotic Protest

    October 5, 2006

    Last night the Columbia College Republicans hosted a speech by members of the Minutemen Project, the conservative “vigilance operation” that patrols the Mexican border and monitors illegal immigration in America. The Spectator reports that the speech erupted into a brawl when students rushed the stage chanting and wielding signs that read “No human being is… Read more

  • Columbia Retreats on Hockey Suspension, but Problems Remain

    October 5, 2006

    As announced in today’s press release, Columbia University’s Athletics Department reversed its season-long suspension of the Men’s Ice Hockey Club in reaction to mounting public scrutiny and criticism, reinstating the club for the fall semester. While the department’s decision will allow the club to compete this season, new punishments have been substituted in place of… Read more

  • Columbia Reinstates Men’s Hockey Club Following Free Speech Controversy

    October 5, 2006

    NEW YORK, October 5, 2006—After a week of intense public criticism, Columbia University has revoked its semester-long suspension of the Men’s Ice Hockey Club. Late last month, Columbia suspended the club for the semester—effectively canceling the club’s entire season—for posting recruiting flyers containing language that some found offensive. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education… Read more

  • New York Civil Rights Coalition to Columbia: “Shocked and Chagrined”

    October 3, 2006

    Michael Meyers, executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, has written a powerful letter to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger decrying the recent suspension of the school’s Men’s Ice Hockey Club for using the phrase “Don’t be a pussy” on recruitment flyers.      Meyers’ letter, which may be read here, is a brilliant… Read more

  • Associated Press on Columbia Hockey Case

    October 2, 2006

    On Wednesday, FIRE sent a letter to Columbia University calling for President Lee Bollinger to reinstate the men’s hockey club. The club’s season had been suspended because it posted flyers around campus that contained the phrase “Don’t be a pussy, play Columbia hockey.” The phrase is a play on the school’s mascot, the Columbia Lions,… Read more

  • Columbia Suspends Men’s Ice Hockey Season over “Offensive” Flyer

    September 28, 2006

    On Tuesday, Columbia University suspended the Men’s Ice Hockey Club for the fall semester, effectively cancelling the club’s season. The reason? Club members, in a bid to recruit new membership, had posted flyers around campus containing the phrase “Don’t be a pussy.”   Apparently those words—a hackneyed play on Columbia’s team name, the Lions—were all… Read more

  • Columbia University: Land of the Free?

    September 25, 2006

    On the same day last week, Columbia University announced that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been invited to speak on campus and then, a few hours later, revoked that same invitation. Although the entire situation presents many issues relating to free speech and academic freedom, I was most struck by a statement that Columbia President… Read more

  • Another Absurd ‘McCarthyism’ Complaint

    September 6, 2005

    The most recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education features a fascinating forum (subscription required) highlighting the battle for free speech and intellectual freedom on campus.  FIRE’s own Greg Lukianoff weighs in with an insightful piece, while Stanley Kurtz and Carol Swain make their customary excellent arguments.  One essay stood out from all the… Read more

  • K. C. Johnson Strikes Again

    August 26, 2005

    The invaluable K. C. Johnson has an excellent op-ed in today’s Inside Higher Ed. K. C. does a wonderful job of collecting evidence that much of the ideological uniformity in higher education is not so much the result of “self-selection” but instead the product of an academic culture that uses ideology as a stand-in for… Read more

  • [Your College or University Here], Inc.: Corporate Labor Model Threatening Academic Freedom?

    May 4, 2005

    Looks like the privatization of schooling is getting more attention in the news. This staff editorial in the Columbia Spectator about administrative plans to penalize potential graduate student unionization strikers caught my attention today: Graduate students have encountered the same dishonesty that Columbia used with Manhattanville residents. Over the past year, Provost Alan Brinkley repeatedly… Read more

  • The Attack on ‘Tenured Radicals’: ‘Fairness,’ ‘Civility,’ and Academic Freedom

    April 26, 2005

    Juan Cole, professor of history at University of Michigan, wrote an interesting article, “The new McCarthyism,” posted on Salon last Friday about the controversy over Columbia’s MEALAC department, the Ad Hoc Committee report’s treatment of the allegations against Joseph Massad, and, in particular, The New York Times’ response to the report. The article parallels the… Read more

  • Columbia President Recommends a ‘Scholarly Temperament’

    April 25, 2005

    On April 17, Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, published an interesting op-ed in the Los Angeles Times titled “Teach Ideas, Not Ideology.” The article deals with the controversy over the Middle Eastern department that has rocked Columbia since the David Project produced its documentary Columbia Unbecoming last fall. That documentary alleges anti-Israeli bias at… Read more

  • More Students Speaking Out at Columbia

    April 21, 2005

    Once again, more exciting student news from Columbia! A report from The Spectator, “Allies Aim to Foster Campus Dialogue,” talks about a discussion group organized on campus for different student groups to build bridges of understanding with each other. The article reports: The students were gathered as a part of the Allies Series, a discussion… Read more

  • Job Security = Academic Freedom?

    April 19, 2005

    Graduate Student Employees United (GSEU) at Columbia University and the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO) at Yale University started a week-long strike yesterday, demanding that the universities’ administrations recognize the groups as workers unions. The Yale Daily News reported that in New York students carried signs that said: “Job Security = Academic Freedom.” The… Read more

  • ‘MEALAC, Meet the Students’

    April 15, 2005

    Columbia University’s Jai Kasturi and Abby Deift wrote an opinion piece in The Spectator today that I hope will help transform the Columbia controversy into an opportunity for finding some common ground. Here’s a snippet of their thoughts: Despite concerted efforts by the University and student groups to address the multiplicity of issues raised by… Read more

  • Columbia’s Report: Professors Respond

    April 12, 2005

    Joseph Massad wrote a “Response to the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report“ last week to defend himself and to analyze the flaws of Columbia University’s Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report. He states: The Committee makes no attempt to relate Shanker’s allegations to two of its own findings: first, that those testifying before the Committee agreed… Read more

  • Students Critique Diversity and Academic Freedom at Columbia

    April 8, 2005

    Two student op-eds in The Spectator yesterday and today are worth a read. Here are some previews. In the first article, “Another Kind of Diversity,” Jeff Waxman writes: The ad hoc committee report, released March 31, has effectively done nothing. It’s what one would have expected: a lot of words that don’t combine to say… Read more

  • Columbia’s Report: A Failure of the Educational Machine

    April 7, 2005

    Reading Columbia’s report, what struck me was the utter state of confusion of all parties involved who had no idea how to handle any “problems” that arose between individuals in the campus community. In a very sad state of affairs, the report does not even mention what should be the first thing a person does… Read more

  • Columbia Manipulates the Press

    April 6, 2005

    For several days now, we’ve been hearing from multiple sources that the New York Times was given an “exclusive” on the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee report by Columbia University in exchange for an agreement from the Times that the newspaper not talk to the original complaining students. This report purports to clear the university of… Read more

  • The Columbia Report: An Analysis

    April 1, 2005

    On March 30, 2005, Columbia’s Ad Hoc Grievance Committee issued a report detailing its findings regarding the ongoing academic freedom controversy in Columbia’s Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) Department. The Ad Hoc Committee was formed in response to allegations made in the film Columbia Unbecoming and elsewhere that MEALAC professors abused pro-Israel students… Read more

  • Columbia Releases Report on Recent Controversy over Free Speech, Bias, and Academic Freedom

    March 31, 2005

    The ad hoc committee established to investigate the grievance procedures surrounding the controversy at Columbia University has issued its report.

  • Where O Where Have the Students’ Voices Gone?

    March 30, 2005

    Jai Katsuri, an eighth-year Ph.D. student in Columbia’s MEALAC department, wrote an op-ed in the Columbia Spectator today discussing the apparent silence of the majority of MEALAC students in the ongoing controversy surrounding their department. Katsuri adds to anthropology student Oguz Erdur’s previous op-ed, “Columbia Becoming,” which criticizes the use of dehumanizing power politics and… Read more

  • More ‘Mallard Fillmore’

    March 30, 2005

    For the third day in a row, Mallard Fillmore focuses on the problem of campus speech codes. In recent months, as the Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and Columbia MEALAC department controversies have dominated the news, I think we are beginning to reach a “tipping point” of public awareness on the problems on our campuses. With… Read more

  • Columbia Dialogues

    March 14, 2005

    Last week, several interesting dialogues about the controversy at Columbia took place on campus. On Tuesday, March 8, Columbia President Lee Bollinger held a “Common Meal” with students as “a follow-up to the Feb. 23 Common Meal on academic freedom in which University Provost Alan Brinkley addressed students.”  While these “Common Meal” sessions provided an… Read more

  • Makin’ Some Harvard Lemonade

    March 8, 2005

    As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It looks like Harvard President Larry Summers is trying hard to do just that with the lemons being pelted at him after making what some believe are pretty sour remarks about the possibility that innate gender differences explain the lack of women in… Read more

  • Williams: Friend, Not Foe?

    March 4, 2005

    I am also adding to David’s and Greg’s posts on Patricia Williams’ article “Power and the Word” in The Nation. David and Greg thoroughly defended FIRE from Williams’ understanding of our work, but in rereading the rest of her article, I found it actually brought up important points relevant to free speech on campus. First,… Read more

  • A Puzzling Critique

    March 2, 2005

    A few FIRE supporters have written in to ask about a recent article which originally appeared in the February 28, 2005, issue of The Nation and has also circulated around the web. The article, written by Patricia Williams, contains a rather disjointed attack on FIRE. She begins with a discussion of Prince Harry’s Nazi costume… Read more

  • Not ‘McCarthyism,’ but…

    February 28, 2005

    While I agree with David’s view that the situation at Columbia has not reached the heights of the governmental abuses of the McCarthy era, I have to express my empathy with the struggle faced by the professors of the MEALAC department and many of the students involved in the debate. Let’s not forget that although… Read more

  • International News Lights on FIRE

    February 25, 2005

    What do Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and David French have in common? They were all featured in an article published on Aljazeera today that discusses academic freedom in the United States. The article mentions recent controversies at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Colorado, and includes statements from David that highlight the issue… Read more

  • Are Things Getting Worse?

    February 25, 2005

    A FIRE supporter writes with an interesting question: Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that your two latest cases (and some of your other more recent reports from other campuses) almost seem to indicate a “ratcheting up” on the part of those who wish to squelch free speech on campus. The brazenness of their… Read more

  • Columbia and McCarthyism

    February 24, 2005

    One of the most irritating aspects of the entire Columbia academic freedom debate is the persistent cry of “McCarthyism” from the MEALAC department’s defenders. A little perspective, please. For those who remember the McCarthy era (I was not alive then, but I can read history books), true “McCarthyism” involved a comprehensive effort by a U.S…. Read more

  • Feeling ‘Intimidated’ Does Not Equal ‘Intimidation’: FIRE in the ‘Columbia Spectator’

    February 18, 2005

    Today, Columbia University’s student newspaper, the Columbia Spectator, published my piece about the ongoing controversy there surrounding the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department. FIRE has already offered its opinion on the crucial issues in this case. After speaking at Columbia Law School on February 2, however, I realized that the students there… Read more

  • Conflicts of Interest at Columbia?

    February 11, 2005

    Ryan Sager of the New York Post has a story up about a report being released today that criticizes the ad hoc committee formed by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger to look into allegations of anti-Semitism in the university’s Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) department. Among other issues, Sager discusses the composition… Read more

  • The Paradox of Self-Censorship

    February 9, 2005

    In the words of Blackstar’s Mos Def and Talib Kweli, “The Man has programmed my conditioning; even my conditioning has been conditioned.” These lyrics truly resonate when reflecting on some of the recent academic freedom controversies on campus. One of the most disturbing forms of censorship (though it cannot actually be called “censorship” because no… Read more

  • Welcome to ‘The Torch’

    February 8, 2005

    Today is the first official day of the new FIRE blog. Those who are familiar with weblogs will recognize both the format (the “group blog”) and the tone (slightly more familiar than the formal press releases on our home page). This blog represents FIRE’s decisive step into the daily debate over academic freedom and individual… Read more

  • FAIR’s Unfair Critique

    February 4, 2005

    On February 1, 2005, ABC News’ World News Tonight ran a lengthy report detailing the problem of liberal academic censorship of conservative speech. The report highlighted three FIRE cases and included interviews of me and several students. Yesterday, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) issued a press release critical of ABC’s report (and critical of my… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • Columbia’s Slow, Secret Steps Toward Justice; Sexual Misconduct Policy Still a Bizarre Patchwork of Outrages

    December 7, 2001

    MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, NY—Despite all of the fanfare surrounding Columbia University’s promulgation two years ago of a so-called “Sexual Misconduct Policy”—a policy touted as a “national model”—Columbia, under intense and broad public criticism, has silently altered the text of its scandalous assault on student rights and decencies. Visitors to the web page of Columbia’s nearly two-year-old… Read more

  • Columbia Belatedly Embraces Free Speech, But for Whom?

    November 8, 2001

    NEW YORK, NY—With breathtaking hypocrisy, the Columbia University Senate passed a resolution in support of freedom of speech. After decades of watching Columbia trash and neglect free speech, legal equality, and all notions of individual rights and responsibilities, the Senate suddenly asserts itself, alarmed only about alleged patriotic threats to freedom of expression. The resolution… Read more

  • Columbia University Unable to Defend Policy in Public

    March 13, 2001

    NEW YORK, NY—The Columbia University administration, although invited by Columbia students, faculty, and parents, did not show up at a campus discussion of its controversial new Sexual Misconduct Policy. A few days later, Columbia refused to participate in a highly rated television news program discussing the policy. Columbia’s new sexual misconduct policy lacks even the… Read more