Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ouch, that sunlight hurts! 

Deacon picks up the New York Times coverage of Columbia University's conclusion of an internal investigation of charges of faculty intimidation in Middle Eastern Studies. Their report says grievance procedures should be strengthened on campus because dealing with outside groups like Campus Watch is undesirable.

Their recommendations focus on this rather than their findings of intimidation by Professor Joseph Massad. From the Times:
The most credible, the committee found, was an incident involving Professor Joseph Massad, who was teaching a class on Palestinian and Israeli politics. According to the report, a student, Deena Shanker, recalled asking if it was true that Israel sometimes gave a warning before a bombing so that people would not be hurt. She said the professor blew up, telling her, "If you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against Palestinians, then you can get out of my classroom!"

The report said that the professor had "denied emphatically that this incident took place" and had told the committee that he would never ask a student to leave his class. And it said that others in the "particularly tense" class differed about whether the incident, which was never formally reported, had taken place.

But the committee said that in the end, it found the account "credible" and concluded that the professor's "rhetorical response to her query exceeded commonly accepted bounds by conveying that her question merited harsh public criticism."
Massad denies still the allegation. The other allegations -- one in which a student who identified himself at an off-campus event as a former Israeli soldier was asked by Massad how many Palestinians he had killed, the other a student told by another Middle Eastern studies prof that she could be a Semite because her eyes were green -- were not denied but neither rose to a level that the faculty committee thought inappropriate.

C. Across the spectrum of these concerns, we found no evidence of any statements made by the faculty that could reasonably be construed as anti-semitic. Professor Massad, for one, has been categorical in his classes concerning the unacceptability of anti-semitic views.

D. We found no evidence that students had been penalized for their views by receiving lower grades.
Oh. Thanks.

Instead the committee argues for better grievance procedures and banning "unregistered auditors" -- meaning Campus Watch or The David Project -- from the classrooms. In other words, not only do they wish to ignore the actions of these professors, they wish to seal up the classroom and keep out the eyes of the public. As I often say, cockroaches hate sunlight, and they will scream when it's applied. The students of Columbia deserve better than this report which offers them nothing more than a bigger complaint box and a promise that the box will be checked more regularly.

UPDATE: The desire for whitewash is more evident.

In an effort to manage favorable coverage of its investigation into the complaints, the university disclosed a summary of the committee's report only to the Columbia Spectator, the campus newspaper, and the New York Times. Those newspapers, sources indicated to The New York Sun last night, made an agreement with the central administration that they would not speak to the students who made the complaints against the professors.

The Sun obtained a copy of the report without the permission of the university administration. Last night, when a reporter from the Sun came to Low Library, the central administration building, for a copy of the report, a security guard threatened to arrest the reporter if she did not leave the building.

According to one student, senior Ariel Beery, one of the campus's most outspoken critics of the professors, a Columbia spokeswoman told him that students were not being shown the report yesterday "for your own good."

Beery was interviewed and says the report didn't cover many of the incidents that student brought forward during the investigation.

Nat Hentoff is right: Columbia is still unbecoming. And unforthcoming.

Source: LGF and Random Penseur.