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Lawsuit Against Columbia Spells Out How Universities Act With Impunity

The Weekly Standard has taken a hard look at pending litigation facing Columbia University, a suit which accuses campus officials of mishandling and misappropriating money from a charitable endowment.

The problem is, the piece notes, even if the university loses the case – Nasar v. Columbia – it still gets off.

Nasar’s complaint alleges, among other things, that “from 2001-2011, Columbia illegally misappropriated and captured for its own purposes income generated by a $1.5 million charitable endowment” established by the Knight Foundation. Columbia contends that Nasar’s suit is without merit and that even if all her allegations were true, the university could not be found to be in violation of the law. But if all of Nasar’s allegations are true and the courts of New York are unable to grant relief, it would mean that New York state law permits university administrations to disregard their written agreements with impunity and behave deceitfully when called to account.

… Nasar’s allegations, however, are disturbingly familiar. They reflect a tendency at our leading universities to avoid transparency and disdain accountability. This tendency cultivates in administrators and professors an imperiousness in the wielding of power and in professors and students a submissiveness in the face of power. This tendency and the vices it nurtures are no less a threat to the goal of liberal education​—​forming individuals fit for freedom​—​than are the corruption of the curriculum and the imposition of ideological conformity that characterize today’s campuses.

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