Columbia University


Columbia University President Lee Bollinger made a big wager three years ago: The school could safely “invest” $30 million in developing and hiring faculty whose only qualification was they weren’t white men.

As Roger Clegg wrote at Minding the Campus at the time, Bollinger’s move was arguably illegal: The Supreme Court’s college affirmative-action decision that bears Bollinger’s name only applied to students, not faculty, who fall under an unexamined part of the Civil Rights Act.

Prezbo (as we affectionately call him) recently reiterated what we all suspected: The Ivy League school’s commitment to “diversity” only runs skin-deep.

In a mass email to the Columbia community three weeks ago, Prezbo doubled down on the diversity investment, promising another $33 million for “recruitment, support, and related programs” to fill its professorial and Ph.D. ranks with the right people.

The new money goes toward not just those with the correct melanin levels and chromosomal makeup. Guess who’s the new favored identity group?

Bollinger explains what he’s after further down the email – expanding the diversity of the “Ph.D. pipeline,” or the range of candidates pursuing doctorates in various programs. (The term is also the name of an “underrepresented” minority-focused program run out of Duke University’s business school.)

“New initiatives to be launched include supporting faculty recruitments for LGBTQ scholarship and convening conferences that facilitate and give prominence to issues of race, gender, and sexuality,” Prezbo wrote.

That’s right – you need the correct sexual orientation and gender identity to be worthy of Columbia’s interest now.

“Diversity” means that people who were born heterosexual will have to fight and claw for a stagnant pool of funding.

While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with granting a professorship to anyone for any reason that wouldn’t compromise one’s ability to teach, it could be argued that something is wrong with seeking out a specific demographic entirely for the purposes of boosting one’s own “diversity” quota.

The focus of diversity is not placed on that of ideological, political or religious identifications – things that people choose – but rather on the completely immaterial circumstances of one’s biology.

Is it any more satisfying to suspect you got into Columbia because of who you love, rather than what you look like?

Clearly Columbia’s means don’t match its lofty ends. Bollinger writes:

Our long-term goal has been, and remains, to achieve the critical mass of faculty needed to establish Columbia as a national leader and world center of the greatest scholarship and teaching that can only arise out of a diverse academic community.

Yet the real goal of this initiative seems to be winning hearts and minds superficially, accomplishing “diversity” quickly with something obvious and external.

If Columbia wants to create diversity that intellectually challenges the core assumptions in its student body, it should hire more conservative and libertarian professors in the humanities.

I still hold out hope that, at an institution as intellectually sound and honest as Columbia, the skin-deep “diversity” of our president – himself a champion and scholar of First Amendment rights – will one day sink a little deeper.

The contributor is a student at Columbia University.

Related articleColumbia U Will Practice Discriminatory Hiring

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You may have seen pictures from Columbia University’s graduation ceremonies today floating around social media under the hashtag #ccclassday2015.

The Columbia Spectator has been tweeting out pictures and video in particular of “Mattress Girl” Emma Sulkowicz, who accused fellow (exonerated) student Paul Nungesser of anally raping her. Nungesser is now suing the school for its role in Sulkowicz’s witch hunt against him.

Unsurprisingly, Sulkowicz and Co. brought her mattress (where the alleged crime happened) and she was as defiant as ever.


What’s surprising is that Columbia apparently bent its own rules to let Sulkowicz continue her performance-art project at graduation.

The Spectator reported late last night:

A provision barring large items has been added to administrative guidelines sent to seniors before Columbia College Class Day on Tuesday. This may include the mattress that Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, plans to bring to the event for her senior visual arts thesis.

“Graduates should not bring into the ceremonial area large objects which could interfere with the proceedings or create discomfort to others in close, crowded spaces shared by thousands of people,” an email sent to graduating seniors from GradZone on Monday said.

This excerpt was not included in similar emails from GradZone—Student Affairs’ name for communications regarding graduation—in 2014 or 2013.

Sulkowicz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A University spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether Sulkowicz would be allowed to bring her mattress into the ceremony and what prompted the policy change.

Though the comments below the story are full of bile against Sulkowicz, the school apparently got enough crap that it folded and let Mattress Girl and her entourage “Carry That Weight” across the stage and all the way to a book deal and a made-for-TV movie (that’s really where this is ending, right?).

No update yet from the Spectator‘s live blog on why Columbia let the mattress through in clear defiance of its policy.

UPDATE: The Washington Examiner‘s Ashe Schow reports that Nungesser’s lawyer is predicting the school’s accommodation for Sulkowicz’s mattress at the ceremony will help their lawsuit: “This goes beyond mere facilitation; they have now granted a special exception.”

Read the Spectator article.

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Before I transferred to Columbia University, I went to a local college in my native West Virginia.

There, I was part of a student-run multicultural initiative – just a band of misfits who wanted to share our love of other cultural perspectives with whoever chose our company.

Though students who joined our group were like-minded in many ways, we did not try to alter the overall intellectual growth of our brothers and sisters in scholarship.

That might not be true at Columbia, if I’m correctly interpreting the implications of its own recent multicultural initiative: that all students (and faculty) must participate, and that this enforced participation will stymie the intellectual journey of many in favor of placating the sensibilities of a few.

The Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board has been meeting with administrators and faculty who lead the Core curriculum in a bid to make students feel “safe in the classroom” by recognizing “the multiplicity of their identities,” the board’s four members wrote in a Columbia Spectator op-ed.

The student-run organization’s mission is to ensure that “Columbia’s campus is welcoming and safe for students of all backgrounds.” It’s part of the school’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Its proposal, however, would do nothing short of compromise the Core curriculum.

Though they don’t explicitly recommend revising the content of Columbia’s Literature and Humanities (Lit Hum) curriculum, the members claim it’s harming students who find certain texts “triggering.”

In a forum the board hosted last semester, a young undergraduate claimed she was triggered by the content of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, an assigned required text in Lit Hum’s two-semester course progression, the board wrote.


Though Ovid’s text is “a fixture of Lit Hum,” the members said that like much of Western literature, Metamorphoses can also be “triggering and offensive” to “a [rape] survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.”

While the board asks the Core gatekeepers to educate faculty about trigger warnings and create a “mediation mechanism for students who have identity-based disagreements with professors,” perhaps their most far-reaching recommendation boils down to re-education.

They want “all professors” to go through a training program that will help them “constructively facilitate conversations that embrace all identities” and “think critically about how the Core Curriculum is framed for their students.”

This is not intended to “infringe” on professors’ academic freedom, they wrote. They simply want to give professors “effective strategies to engage with potential conflicts and confrontations in the classroom” and coax out “voices which presently feel silenced.”

What about the voice of students at large who don’t have a “university-funded bureaucracy” to implement their will, as Cornell Law School Professor William Jacobson wrote about the members’ proposal?

Won’t their voices be “silenced” if the Core is neutered into a bland puddle of inoffensiveness?

I’m not the only student worried about how this could play out.

A fellow Columbia undergrad who requested anonymity was candid in an interview about the shortcomings of the proposal.

The very existence of an advisory board for multicultural grievances is alarming because it has “a big selection bias for membership,” the student told me.

He claimed no one had been accepted to the board “who thinks that ideas and logic can trump emotions and identity.” Instead, it is composed of those who consider identity itself “the most” important factor in decision-making.

This is why the Spectator op-ed “didn’t even bother” establishing such a premise, the student told me – the board just takes it for granted that identity will trump all else.

I reached out to the advisory board members to flesh out their recommendations, as well as the Office of Multicultural Affairs and director of the Center for the Core Curriculum, Roosevelt Montás, to get their take on the board’s proposal and what it could mean for the Core.

Since these issues probably won’t stay confined to Columbia, I tried to reach the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ John Tessitore, who directs its humanities and education program, for his take on challenges to such curricula.

So far only advisory board member Tanika Lynch has responded, and asked for more time to formulate a response. (Finals week is wrapping up at Columbia.)

However they feel about the Core curriculum, students and faculty deserve to know how it might change in response to perceived slights to certain groups on campus.

College Fix contributor Micah Fleck is a student at Columbia University.

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IMAGES: Columbia University Office of Multicultural Affairs, Wikimedia Commons

That’s the shocking recommendation from this University of Chicago alumna who sounds more like Claire Underwood than a decent human being who knows right from wrong.

Writing in the Chicago Maroon, Michele Beaulieux cites some estimates from a higher-ed administrators group:

Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Vice President Nancy Chi Cantalupo, who participated in an Institute of Politics panel on campus last quarter, found more than 50 victim cases alleging Title IX violations that were decided unfavorably toward schools and therefore were likely to cost them money. Her research showed that the top two publicly disclosed settlements in litigated Title IX cases cost the schools $2.8 million and $850,000.

Accused students, in contrast, are more likely to file lawsuits, but they are less likely to win, and even less likely to win big. Cantalupo found only three cases where the court decided that the school’s disciplinary procedures in a sexual violence case violated due process for the accused assailants. In only one of those cases was the student awarded any money: $26,500.

Beaulieux correctly notes that this imbalance is a direct result the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which all but told schools in 2011 to believe any and all rape accusations or risk losing their federal funding:

Schools are now facing more Title IX complaints than alleged perpetrator and victim lawsuits combined, and it is those Title IX complaints that account for the greater cost of victims’ cases in the second [liability-insurance provider United Educators] study. The courts also have consistently shown that violating Title IX is more damaging than violating due process rights. When schools understand how courts will rule, their overall risk assessments may reflect that fact, too.

Lawsuits by accused students are still relatively new, and even though they are proliferating, not many have gone all the way through the legal process, to my knowledge. One recently concluded case – heard by a judge strongly endorsed by leading believer-the-survivor activist Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – ended badly for an accused student at Columbia.

Perhaps a big judgment in favor of an accused student – the Occidental College or Columbia University “Mattress Girl” cases seem like good candidates – will make schools reconsider.

But Beaulieux’s amoral analysis is probably right: It’s cheaper to do the wrong thing when the feds incentivize it.

Read the op-ed.

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From ignoring broken confidentiality to paying for rally’s cleanup, an issue of favoritism

Columbia University systematically used its own resources to attack a student whom it cleared of sexual-assault allegations, according to a lawsuit by Paul Nungesser against school leaders.

Though it doesn’t name his accuser, the so-called “Mattress Girl” Emma Sulkowicz, as a defendant, the suit repeatedly cites communication between the ex-sex partners as evidence of Sulkowicz’s duplicity.

Columbia took the “politically correct route” in promoting Sulkowicz’s “Carry that Weight” art project, Nungesser attorney Paul Byler told The College Fix in a phone interview.

By toting her mattress around campus as a protest of Columbia’s refusal to expel Nungesser, Sulkowicz has enchanted national figures such as Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who brought her to this year’s State of the Union address and flat-out called Nungesser a “rapist.”

The campus judgment directed at Nungesser and his defenders throughout the ordeal bothered even one of Sulkowicz’s supporters, who wrote a letter in the Columbia Spectator asking students to “end Emma’s story.”



School failed to protect a student it exonerated

Though Columbia cleared Nungesser under the low “preponderance of evidence” standard and a subsequent New York County investigation ended for lack of evidence, Columbia continued to promote and fund – both directly and indirectly – many of Sulkowicz’s exploits, the lawsuit claims.

Lawyer Byler told The Fix the school had an obligation to protect Nungesser.

“If you’re a male and you’re exonerated,” the only conclusion is there’s “no merit at all to the accusation,” Byler said.

The problems started when the university began tolerating “and then embraced” Sulkowicz’s behavior, Byler said.

Columbia gave course credit to Sulkowicz for her mattress-oriented performance art project and paid most of a bill for a rally against sexual assault headlined by Sulkowicz, the suit says.

Efforts “to wreak havoc on Paul’s life” were aided by Professor Jon Kessler, named as a defendant, who “jointly designed” the mattress project with Sulkowicz as her senior thesis.

By allowing “Emma to carry the mattress into each of her classes, the library, and on Columbia campus-provided transportation,” Columbia is facilitating gender-based harassment and stalking of Nungesser, the suit claims.

School guilty of ‘sponsoring a defamation and harassment movement’

bollingerUniversity President Lee Bollinger, another defendant, showed “contemptible moral cowardice in bowing down to the witch hunt against an innocent student” by repeatedly praising Sulkowicz’s project, the suit says.

University resources were used to slur Nungesser: Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender published articles praising Sulkowicz on its blog and promoted her art project, the suit says.

Columbia bent its own rules to help Sulkowicz’s cause, according to the suit.

Following the rally where Sulkowicz spoke of her own alleged rape by Nungesser, Columbia picked up $1,000 of the $1,500 cost of cleanup rather than requiring its student organization sponsors to pay the full cost – “effectively sponsoring a defamation and harassment movement against Paul.”

The lawsuit alleges the university failed to protect Nungesser numerous times, including after Sulkowicz broke the confidentiality agreement.

It failed to penalize students who broke confidentiality agreements by speaking with the Spectator and allowed the paper to name Nungesser as the alleged rapist.

Bollinger patted the university on the back in an October New Republic article, praising its efforts against sexual assault, while ignoring the universities’ activities and omissions “that had falsely branded Paul a rapist and constituted gender based harassment,” the suit says.




Contradicting the DA

Throughout the ordeal, Sulkowicz repeatedly lied or bended the truth, according to the lawsuit.

During the investigation by the university, she “was able to continuously alter and tweak important facts,” and she claimed at her April 2014 press conference with Sen. Gillibrand that her “serial rapist” was on campus, despite knowing that he was studying abroad in Prague.

In August 2014, after the New York County district attorney’s office cited a lack of “reasonable suspicion” as its reason for not bringing charges, Sulkowicz claimed that it was she who had decided against pressing charges against Nungesser, citing the long wait to go to trial.

She repeated this claim in an interview with Democracy Now.

Sulkowicz and Nungesser had engaged in consensual sexual intercourse previous to the alleged rape and she was often flirty with him, according to the suit.

As Robby Soave at Reason noted, “the messages she continued to send him even after he allegedly attacked her—as well as some of her demonstrably false assertions, including that she never brought up anal sex with him—certainly look bad for her.”

Columbia University declined to comment and Sulkowicz did not respond to requests for comment.

College Fix reporter Matt Lamb is a student at Loyola University-Chicago.

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He’s popular on daytime television but apparently not among some colleagues in the medical field.

Dr. Mehmet Oz should be fired from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons – or at least removed as vice chair of the Department of Surgery – a group of doctors told the university in a letter last week, The Daily Pennsylvanian reports.

The group was led by Henry Miller of Stanford University, and it called Oz unqualified because of his “disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine” and his promotion of “quack treatments.”

The doctors said Oz peddles treatments “in the interest of personal financial gain”:

“Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgments about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both,” the letter concluded. “Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.”

Columbia is defending Oz on academic-freedom grounds, while Oz himself wrote on Facebook – apparently in response to the letter – that his show provides “multiple points of view,” which “doesn’t sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts”:

For example, I do not claim that GMO foods are dangerous, but believe that they should be labeled like they are in most countries around the world. I will address this on the show next week.

Read the story.

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IMAGE: World Economic Forum