Middle East studies in the News
Columbia: No evidence profs made anti-Semitic remarks
New York Daily News
There is "no evidence" that professors at Columbia University made anti-Semitic statements to intimidate Jewish students in classes, according to a university report released Thursday.
But the report did identify one instance where a professor "exceeded commonly accepted bounds" of behavior when he angrily implied a student should leave his classroom after she defended Israel's conduct toward Palestinians. The professor has repeatedly denied the allegations.
The findings discounted all other reported incidents of intimidation as within the bounds of acceptable academic debate.
"Many of the matters brought before us did not, in our opinion, constitute the basis for formal grievances but were issues that warranted sympathetic hearing and an appropriate university response," said the report.
"We therefore recommend consideration of a common, central university site to which students, faculty and administrators could turn to express concerns, though not necessarily grievances, about the quality of their experience at Columbia," it said.
The committee criticized the university for failing to address the complaints promptly enough, allowing "outside advocacy groups devoted to purposes tangential to those of the university ... to intervene."
The university's president, Lee Bollinger, ordered the investigation after a group of students made a video alleging that Middle Eastern studies professors had harassed them. The video was funded by the David Project, a Boston-based pro-Israel group.
The committee interviewed 62 students, faculty members, administrators and alumni, and accepted written statements from more than 60 others. Some advocates of the students have criticized the committee's makeup, noting it included several faculty members who have expressed anti-Israel views.
"Our investigation into the matters considered in this report leads us to urge that whatever the particular structures adopted in each unit, they be accessible, transparent, geared toward the speedy resolution of complaints and the appropriate protection of privacy, and that the university devise ways to educate all members of the community as to their existence and proper use," the report said.
"Having good procedures in place is imperative, but widespread knowledge about them is equally important," said the report.
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