[Marxism] Background on Lee Bollinger statement

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 10 16:05:01 MDT 2007

(Earlier I sent out a statement by Columbia University president Lee 
Bollinger. It was in reference to this.)

Published in the Columbia Spectator (http://www.columbiaspectator.com)
Professor Targeted in Hate Crime at TC
By Mary Kohlmann, Joy Resmovits, Laura Schreiber

Created 10/10/2007 - 3:49am
Special Feature

On Tuesday, an African American professor at Teachers College, the 
nation’s top-ranked education school, came to her office to find a noose 
hanging on the door. Today students clad in black will rally in protest 
of this hate crime at 2 p.m. in front of Arthur Zankel hall before a 
town hall meeting at TC.

The hate crime comes after a series of politically and racially charged 
events that have occurred over the past two weeks including Iranian 
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial appearance, the discovery 
of racist and Isloamophobic graffiti, and the announcement of an 
appearance by conservative author David Horowitz, CC ’59, for 
Islamo-fascism awareness week.

While her name has not been confirmed by police or administration 
officials, several sources have reported that the victim is Madonna 
Constantine, an African American woman famous for her publications on 
racism. She is a professor of psychology and education and a director of 
the Cultural Winter Roundtable on Psychology and Education.

“All of her [Constantine’s] work [on racism] is disregarded. She is just 
a black woman to them [the perpetrators],” said Jasmine Alvarez, a 
representative to the University Senate.

According to University officials, the noose was discovered this morning 
and was reported to the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes 
Task Force, members of which are currently investigating the incident.

Early Wednesday morning, the New York Post cited several unnamed sources 
[1] as saying the incident "may stem from a bitter academic dispute with 
a white rival professor." However, this claim could not be immediately 

"They're investigating whether another professor put the noose there 
rather than a student," one of the sources told the Post. "They have 
someone they're looking at, another professor who had a rivalry with her 
and was jealous over the work she did."

Constantine did not respond to calls for comment late last night.

TC President Susan Fuhrman notified students and faculty at the school 
via e-mail yesterday afternoon. “The TC community and I deplore this 
hateful act, which violates every Teachers College and societal norm,” 
she wrote.

While undergraduates received no notices regarding the hate crime from 
administrators, University President Lee Bollinger denounced the 
incident in a written statement released to Spectator. “This is an 
assault on African Americans and therefore it is an assault on every one 
of us. I know I speak on behalf of every member of our communities in 
condemning this horrible action. I also want to express our full support 
of Teachers College and President Susan Furhman in dealing with this 
matter,” he said.

Students reacted strongly to the controversy last night. More than 150 
undergraduates attended a meeting held last night in Earl Hall, and over 
120 Teachers College students gathered last night in the TC dining hall 
to express their feelings about, react against, and move forward from 
the hate crime.

Today’s town hall meeting, which was scheduled before yesterday’s 
incident, is set to be attended by Fuhrman and TC Provost Thomas James. 
But administrators were conspicuously absent at last night’s TC meeting, 
which led students to question the accountability system of both TC and 
the University.

“Where is the president right now? Where is Bollinger?” a student who 
wished to remain anonymous asked. “They’re not here to give the support 
they need to give ... Do we have to wait for a murder ... for us to get 
the support we need from the faculty?” Another student said that James 
was hired to implement diversity initiatives, but his no-show last night 
caused the student to doubt that claim.

Many students said that change has to come from higher authorities, 
despite the absence of those figures at the emergency meetings. “Just 
the way President Bollinger said to Ahmadinejad, Bollinger has to say 
that this is unacceptable,” Alicia Sosa, a TC student, said.

TC student Sara Zoeterman was walking to the small campus at 120th 
Street for the meeting there when a news crew posed questions to her 
about Constantine, asking what the professor had done to make her 
hateful in the eyes of the perpetrator. “If I was watching the news, I’d 
think, ‘why is someone pissed at her?’” Zoeterman said.

At the meetings, several students said they need to stop “reinventing 
the wheel” when it came to protest and to start employ different 
rallying strategies. One TC student called for more disruptive, physical 
action, suggesting blocking traffic on Amsterdam Avenue with desks and 
chairs. Afterwards, a group of students who attended the event released 
a list of demands for the University to comply with.

“I’ve been here two years and this [hate] just seems part of the culture 
and it’s an ugly manifestation of the culture here at Columbia,” Desiree 
Carver-Thomas, CC ’09, said after the Earl Hall meeting. “I’m wanting to 
get at the root of the culture and the problem rather than chasing after 
every event that happens on campus because that just runs us ragged.”

Towards the end of the TC meeting, students approved today’s rally, 
which undergraduates at Earl Hall later said they would join.

“Everything needs to be called into question,” Christien Tompkins, CC 
’08 and executive co-chair of United Students of Color Council said 
after the Earl Hall meeting. “This noose incident is a very sharp 
indicator of how important it us for students, as people of conscience, 
not just to ask the administration to do things and wait for things to 
happen but make them happen.”

“Just like the racist graffiti found at the School of International 
Affairs, the event was also an act of cowardice aimed at dividing our 
community at a time when we are particularly vulnerable,” the Black 
Students Organization said in a statement released last night said. 
“Yet, we must and we will stand together, in solidarity and send the 
message that these acts of hate will not be tolerated.”

Many TC students said they were personally hurt. Many called the 
placement of the noose the tip of the iceberg and that racism pervades 
the halls and classrooms of Teachers College. One student said he found 
this racism perverse, as he learns in class about educational equity and 
hopes to teach Harlem’s youth after graduation.

Today, student leaders will meet with Vice President of Arts and Science 
Nicholas Dirks and Dean Austin Quigley of Columbia College.

Amanda Erickson and Josh Hirschland contributed to this article

The reporters of this article can be reached at news at columbiaspectator.com.
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