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Report on Student Intimidation at Columbia Inadequate; Findings on Anti-Semitism A "Red Herring"

New York, NY, March 31, 2005 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today responded to the findings of a report by the committee investigating allegations of intimidation of Jewish students by faculty at Columbia University.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

It's a sad day at Columbia University.  The report by the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee protects the faculty, gives little credibility to the students, and comes up with no solutions at all to deal with the concerns about intimidation.  The report's finding that there was no anti-Semitism is a red herring, since no one in responsibility has ever charged the university with engaging in anti-Semitism.  The issue is, and has always been the alleged intimidation of pro-Israel students by faculty members.  That issue is inadequately addressed by the report.

While the report in its language tries to present itself as balanced, the bottom line is that the students who felt intimidated before this inquiry are not better off now than they were before. Rather than focusing on the concerns of students, the report tries to balance the blame and create an equivalency between the professors and the students.  The report concludes that some professors in the Middle Eastern and Asian Language and Cultures Department crossed the line, but there are no recommendations for how the university should deal with that conduct, now or in the future.

Now is the time for President Lee Bollinger to speak out clearly and to take leadership to initiate or spell out a course of action that would reassure students that intimidation will not happen again at the university. The report provides no basis for accomplishing that.  As President Bollinger has said, there are limits to academic freedom, and unless he is able to reinforce a sense of sympathy with the students, the university will be unable to create an atmosphere where students can feel comfortable with expressing their own points of view.

 


The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.



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