Columbia University Under Investigation

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Columbia University President Lee Bolligner issued a statement to the Spectator, contending that Columbia has “strong policies against discrimination,” and that it handles “allegations of discrimination of any kind very seriously.” But he was quick to refute Marcus’s attempt to draw Professor Massad into the controversy. “It is important to note that the individual complaint appears to relate to academic advising at Barnard College and in no way involves Professor Joseph Massad,” Bollinger claimed. “Based on these facts, therefore, it is extremely unfair for professor Massad to be cited in a matter in which he played no part whatsoever.” Whether or not the OCR agrees with that contention remains to be seen.

Officials at Barnard College are reportedly reviewing the incident as well. “We do not tolerate discrimination by any member of the college community, so we are carefully exploring and reviewing the claims made about this alleged incident,” wrote Joanne Kwong, vice president for communications. “As this is a pending investigation, it would be inappropriate and premature to comment any further at this time.”

Judith Jacobson, associate professor of the Clinical Mailman School of Public Health, and co-founder of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a group of American academics dedicated to to fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias on college campuses, was the person who alerted Marcus to the alleged incident. Neither Jacobson nor Marcus would identify the student involved, but Marcus contended the she is supportive of the investigation. Jacobson, who believes the student chose not to enroll in Massad’s class, was “distressed” by the alleged incident. “Frankly, I was shocked,” said Jacobson. “I mean, suppose it were a black student who was steered away from taking a course because he or she was black. It’s just one of these things that you get more and more concerned about when you think about it,” she added.

Some Jewish Columbia students remain skeptical of the allegations. Shira Borzak, BC ’12 characterized her experience at Columbia as “overwhelmingly positive.” Michael Abramson, CC ’13 insisted the allegation amounted to an “isolated incident.” Jordana Kaminetsky, BC ’12  and president of Hillel, a club for Jewish students, issued a joint statement with Daniel Bonner, CC ’13 and president of Yavneh/Hillel.

The duo noted that Columbia has “professors who see things differently than we do in the context of Israel and the quest for balance in the classroom continues.” But they added that Jewish students feel “supported in the Columbia and Barnard academic community…and we are very grateful for it.”

On the other hand, Eric Schorr, GS/JTS ‘12 and president of the pro-Israel group LionPAC is taking a wait-and-see approach. He urged his fellow students to avoid “decontextualizing and conflating” this incident, yet he also believes “there needs to be a deeper conversation about issues that may in fact be taking place on campus.” And Susan Tuchman, the director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Center for Law and Justice, noted that concerns about anti-Semitism at CU have “been on the radar screen of many people.”

Alleged discrimination is now on the radar screen at the OCS as well. And Kenneth Marcus who, in addition to his stint at U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, headed the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, considers this version of steering as “a somewhat novel theory,” but one that “fits exactly.” He is looking forward to the investigation and expressed the hope that the university would be willing, if necessary, to negotiate a voluntary settlement with OCS. “We would want to see Columbia take firm actions to ensure not only that the steering problem is addressed, but more importantly that Jewish students are not facing a hostile environment in Middle East studies classes,” he told Tablet Magazine.

His take on Professor Massad? “We would like for Columbia to look into what’s going on, especially in Professor Massad’s class, and reconsider whether the investigation they did a few years ago is really adequate,” he said. “If it turns out as a result of the investigation that there’s a hostile environment for Jewish students in any Columbia classes, then the instructors need to be dealt with.”

The investigation was opened on September 19th. Stay tuned.

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  • Arafat

    CU has banned me from commenting on their internet newspaper. For over a year I commented on articles/editorials and/or opinion pieces that I felt were prejudicial against Israel. I tried to keep my comments civil, although admittedly at times I would get down into the gutter when a rival did so first.

    I did receive notes of thanks from anonymous posters for my attempts to add a voice of reason and logic to anti-semitic diatribes. I guess CU's editorial board decided I was being Islamophobic, or some other such BS.

    • Howard

      Islamophobia would be a irrational fear of islam/moslems? Seems to me that given the teachings of islam and the conduct of a great many moslems towards Jews and Israel that fear would be anything but irrational.

  • StephenD

    A tough spot for the student to be sure. Can you imagine now being admitted to this class? How uncomfortable that would be! Should this claim prevail I tip my hat to the young lady and encourage her to be strong and continue to fight the good fight. It takes folks exactly like her to shine a light on this darkness.
    I get so bored with the boiler plate responses from the Universities and Colleges. They are “against discrimination and will carefully review all alleged incidents…blah, blah, blah.” They should stop it. Know that people see the truth eventually and they should rout it out quietly if possible but no less completely…for their own good

  • mrbean

    The tolerance of anti semitism by Muslim students by the administrations at nearly every major university has reach a point where there is open threats of and actual violence against Jewish students on and off campus. Colonbia and Bezerkley are the two worst. I would have them charged and when found guilty, have the State Department revoke their student visas and deport them immediately.

  • waterwillows

    I wonder if anyone has taken a look at the where the money comes from? Who is funding the higher education brothels?
    Perhaps an audit would shed a great deal of light on their 'rights to so called freedom' to bash the cultures and peoples of non-muslim identity.

  • Choi

    When one sees the spectacle of "All-American" College Football,one is seeing a facade.
    Beneath the packed stadiums,marching bands,cheerleaders, tailgating and the game itself,it's an American postcard,EXCEPT that beneath it all is the ROT of the LEFTY Professors and adminstrators who HATE this countryand who are BRAINWASHING tommorrow's leaders .
    Big-Time College Football brings millions of dollars in to the Universities.,which then turnout America-Haters and Anti-Semites.

  • Choi

    Look no further than Notre Dame.
    Is there any school which epitimizes All-American College Football more than Notre Dame?
    When one thinks Notre Dame ,one thinks of College Football.The "College Football Hall of Fame MOVED to South Bend,Indiana,because of Notre Dame.
    I myself was a Notre Dame Fan UNTIL Notre Dame attempted to bring Tariq Ramadan,Islamist and relation to Muslim Brotherhood founder Al-Banna to their faculty as part of an Arab/Muslim Funded Middle East Center.
    Now I'm NEVER for Notre Dame, in fact I WANT THEM TO LOSE & KEEP LOSING,and hopefully keep BIG $$$$ that the Notre Dame "mystique" keeps generating ,OUT of South Bend.

    One last example is the Univ.of Wisconsin.
    A powerful Big 10 Football team.
    Packed SOLD-OUT home stadium,all of the "All-American"College Football trappings,and among the MOST LEFT-WING Schools in the nation that churns out LEFTY AMERICA-HATERS

  • Flipside

    I think it is interesting that the Jewish fighting organizations on campus are treating this as a racial incident.

    • tanstaafl

      As opposed to the "Muslim killers" organizations?

      • Flipside

        Screw the Muslims. This is about the Jews.

  • Bernice Lipkin

    Columbia doesn't just discriminate against Jewish students by hiring anti-Semitic professors who can't keep their bias out of their lectures, it adds contempt into the mix.
    In 2004-5, as part of Columbia U.'s damage control when the details of how Arab professors treated Jewish students could no longer be ignored, President Lee Bollinger convened a Provost Committee to investigate Rashid Khalid's unscholarly ideology-driven
    rabid hostility to Israel. Surprise, surprise, 2 of the 5 members had signed a divest-from-Israel petition and another was known as
    anti-Israel. Khalidi was of course exonerated and Columbia's selective
    freedom-of-speech continued. What really gets me is that
    Khalidi was put in as head of the committee to pick a head of Jewish Studies at
    Columbia. Predictably the committee picked an anti-Zionist Jew.
    See here.

    Bernice Lipkin
    Alumna, Columbia U Faculty of Pure Sciencel, 1961

    • Flipside

      Yes, but aren’t you a Kahanist who attacks the Presbyterian church and whose associates are trying to set up trade monopolies with the Kurds? Doesn’t that cast a small aspersion on your impartiality?

  • tagalog

    Is Lee Bollinger the Bollinger of Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, about affirmative action racial preference admission programs at the U. of Michigan undergrad program and the U. Mich. Law School?

  • maturin20

    I'm constantly amazed at the molehill-mountain transmutation that goes on in US academies.

  • Bill Riordan

    I love this. This is truly disgusting. Massad did not encourage the student to not take his class as is obvious by this garbage article. Many Jewish students have taken his class and have testified that he is not anti-Semitic. Where is their testimony in this piece of crap? This is bs and you know it. The attempts to smear Massad go back several years. It is truly despicable that this is still going on. You should be ashamed.

  • Bill Riordan

    And here is the result. Apparently there is still some justice in this world.