Monthly Archives: March 2005

Firing it Up

Columbians for Academic Freedom‘s weblog is back on-line–we were silent in the hope that our show of trust would enable the University to mend things silently behind-the-scenes. The information we have received, however, points to otherwise.

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Sometimes the future is unclear…

One of the reasons my posting has been so light is that I am in the process of re-writing my thesis, due next Tuesday. The other was that I was awaiting the results of my application to graduate school–and today I found myself to be rejected by Princeton.
I hoped that my grades, along with my publications, my life experience and my participation on campus life as president of the student body, would help me get into the Politics Department’s Political Philosophy Program. Guess I was wrong.
Luckily, I was convinced by a friend to apply at the last minute to the Jewish Theological Seminary, and was accepted to a Masters Program in Jewish Philosophy, which is the first step to a PhD. So now, after receiving an email from Princeton bearing the bad news, I am frantically trying to put together my financial aid information to enable me to continue my academic life. In any case, that’s why I’m not posting.
NOTE: It turns out my thesis is only due March 31st. Nice. Back to posting soon.

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Defending Job Prospects Above All

If there was ever a sad case of brown-nosing to get ahead, it is Michael Shtender-Auerbach, a Columbia student who is doing the administration’s work by setting up the website Defend Columbia. The entire purpose of his campaign is, in his own words, to protect “the degrees we students have spent so much effort, time and money to obtain” and “defend vigorously the reputation of our university, and respond to the calumnies against it.”
Guess what, Michael: reputations are earned, not granted. Three years of Columbia’s inability to deal with the problem of professorial bullying and abuse does not earn anyone here any gold stars, and it will take a lot for the administration to fix the mess the institution got itself into. As I wrote years ago–literally–it will take the leadership of President Bollinger to free us from this intellectual morass. But, instead of joining the struggle to heal Columbia from the poison circulating in its veins, Michael would rather it all be swept under the rug and have the sanctity of his diploma upheld.
And now for why this is a special case: Michael has the verve to say that I “got schooled” at SPME. That I was “taken out” into the hallway and told not to praise Khalidi’s in-class activity and that this some way proves that I am being used.
Sorry, not true. Aharon Horwitz, Bari Weiss and myself had just gotten up before an overflowing audience of professors and public figures to criticize remarks made earlier, saying that some of the remarks made were “not only not productive, but counterproductive to our goal, that being to heal Columbia University.” Bari–one of the bravest young leaders I know–made it very clear that in these times it becomes even more important to be careful with words, and to make sure to stay far clear of generalizations–that building community takes acceptance and hate is unacceptable. Aharon–a brilliant, amazing alum who knew that his public exposure could ruin many of the very important relationships he developed over the years–reminded the audience that he had taken amazing classes in MEALAC, and that Columbia as an institution is not anti-Semitic. That’s not getting schooled.
When one speaker got up to say that we are “bending over backwards” to aid the enemy, I told him that we would not bend over backwards for the Columbia Administration, nor for the members of the audience. Justice is our aim, the rights of students and faculty to a healthy intellectual environment is our cause, and we would not be deterred by the desire to “play with the team” and let abuse continue.
Not Michael though. He’ll go on defending Columbia, and seems to be willing to sacrifice all of those who have experienced injustice to get a better starting salary. [Crossposted]

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