[Marxism] Background on Lee Bollinger statement
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
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
 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,”
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
“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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