Oh The Joys Of Having Gone To Graduate School

26 Sep

Today I received this email:


Debating Ahmadinejad at Columbia‏

From: Eric J. Furda- Vice President for Alumni Relations (alumnilink@columbia.edu)

Sent: Tue 9/25/07 9:46 PM

To: Columbia University Alumni (bethshax@hotmail.com)

This message is being sent to you because of your affiliation with Columbia University.

Over the past week the scheduled appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia’s World Leaders Forum has sparked debate around the world. Here on campus, in countless conversations, students and faculty challenged one another to think critically about the issues raised by his visit. President Bollinger has answered tough questions from the media and from local and regional politicians. The University has heard from hundreds of alumni on the subject expressing both support and dismay.

Yesterday the Morningside Heights campus was alive as thousands of students participated in peaceful demonstrations and dialogue about issues relating to both Iran and free speech. Many alumni would have been proud of our students who, however intense and disparate their viewpoints, upheld the values of free expression and respect that define the essence of our campus community and our society.

At the World Leaders Forum event in Roone Arledge auditorium, President Bollinger, SIPA interim dean John Coatsworth, and Columbia students called the Iranian President to account for his positions on the Holocaust, Israel, nuclear weapons, homosexuals, women’s rights, and many other matters—and afforded Ahmadinejad the opportunity to respond. I hope you will take the time to visit http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/07/09/sipairan.html, where you can see a full video of the event, read transcripts of President Bollinger’s introduction and President Ahmadinejad’s remarks, and read other statements relating to the event. You may also want to read an editorial, “Free Speech in Practice,” published in the Spectator, Columbia’s student newspaper.

The issues raised at, and by, yesterday’s World Leaders Forum will continue to reverberate. I invite you to follow the links above and then log in to share your thoughts with other alumni in Columbia’s free speech discussion group at alumni.columbia.edu/forum.


Eric J. Furda
Vice President for Alumni Relations

Wouldn’t it be better and easier if they had just sent out an email saying, “please donate to us, even though we let someone who you may or may not agree with politically speak at our school”?  I mean, lets put aside for a brief moment the fact that the opening remarks were racist, jingoistic diatribes that made us look like sullen schoolyard bullies.

Let’s instead focus on the fact that everyone felt compelled to defend this decision.  All the power that would have been generated from this decision, to allow a man who is an essential element in the new world order whether we like it our not, to speak at Columbia freely would have been the ultimate act of power for a free society.

Instead, cloaked in propaganda and financial concerns, we chose not to set the standard for humanity, decency religius tolerance or intellectual freedom.

My money is better spent supporting the advertisers for a re-run of the Daily Show.  Fucked, but true.

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