Monday, February 21, 2005

Greg sets the record straight.

Greg Lukainoff, from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education - who recently gave an excellent lecture here at Columbia - writes in the spec what is and isn't going on in the MEALAC department.

Four months after The David Project released Columbia Unbecoming, Columbia is embroiled in a public fight over allegations against the Middle East and Asian languages and Cultures department. The latest, longer version of the film includes more examples of what it sees as "bias," "intimidation," and "harassment." While he David Project and its supporters have every right to protest and expose perceived buses at Columbia, it is essential for all involved to understand that nothing described in the film constitutes either harassment or intimidation in any formal sense...

Students at Columbia have every right to protest what they see as unprofessional behavior by professors and to demand the right to dissent in the classroom. It is also fully within their rights to ask Columbia to hire more professors with differing perspectives (and Columbia would be within its rights to hire a more ideologically diverse faculty), but when students accuse professors of serious offenses like intimidation or harassment, they are on shaky ground.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I liked Mike Meyers' (of the FIRE board and formerly of the NYCLU, before they started to suck) take on the situation. Students need to be able to debate professors. Forget the harassment stuff. What's important is that students be given the opportunity to bring their own thoughts to the table without getting shouted down by a prof, who is obviously in the position of power. This from a man who knows the value of academic freedom as a cherished principle to ALL MEMBERS of the academy. He mentioned that as a law student in the late sixties, his professor would constantly refer to slavery as a benign institution and chuckle at any dissent. Mike did his own research which he brought to the attention of the class, and after that it was the students chuckling at the teacher.

Just my buck-oh-five

Anonymous said...

Word up Mike Meyers. There is no good reason to believe that diligent students can't digest all relevant facts in any given discussion, and uncover additional facts, and proffer an understanding that is both different from and more accurate than the "Truth" being espoused by the Professors. Isn't that what students should constantly be aiming to do? Could an administrator or a professor ask for anything more than to have an aggressively contrarian student body that takes no opinion or theory spoken at face value? Isn't the correction of prior errors the foundation of future progress in so many cases?