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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Arrogance and Ignorance at Columbia University

Amazing what is being taught in todays Universities.

While I will not cast aspersion on all universities, I will narrow the focus to Columbia University and it's students who stormed the stage a speaker was speaking on, shouted him down, and turned riotous while proclaiming "Free Speech". Do you find anything ironic in this last part, that they took away the right of another to speak, and claimed it was free-speech on their part to do so?

I decided to go to the University website and do a little searching of my own, and came across the Columbia Daily Spectator:

The Columbia Daily Spectator is the daily newspaper of Columbia University and Morningside Heights. We are the second-oldest college daily paper in the country and have been financially independent from the University since 1962. The newspaper is published five days a week during the academic year and weekly during the summer. With a circulation of 10,000, it is delivered to over 150 locations throughout Morningside Heights every day.

The Columbia Daily Spectator is written and edited by Columbia University undergraduates. We serve the communities of Columbia University and Morningside Heights as a forum for the expression of diverse viewpoints, a top source for in-depth and comprehensive news and features, and a rewarding extracurricular opportunity for our staff. Spectator is the primary source of campus and local news for more than 90 percent of our readership. For busy students, Spectator is the only consistent source of local news, and for the community at large, it is the only source for information about University events and services. Serving a community of over 60,000 students, faculty, administrators, and Morningside Heights residents, the Columbia Daily Spectator is the most widely-read newspaper in Morningside Heights and Harlem.

About the Spectator

Laura Brunts, the Deputy News Editor, has written several pieces concerning the riotous nature of the student protestors:

A few excerpts from her most recent articles:

Chicanos Prep Minutemen Protest - 10/02/2006
Republicans Back Wednesday Night Invitation of Vigilantes

Starting last week, several campus groups began mobilizing to protest three members of the Minutemen, a vigilante group that patrols the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal immigrants, who will be speaking in Roone Arledge Auditorium Wednesday night. The three members, Jim Gilchrist, Marvin Stuart, and Jerome Corsi, were invited by the Columbia College Republicans.

"It [my reaction] was shock at first," Chicano Caucus political chair Karina Garcia, CC '08, said. "To bring a man who has blood on his hands, almost. ... This is an organization that has been the cause of multiple hate crimes. They are terrorizing these communities."

Last week, the College Republicans invited the Chicano Caucus and several other groups to co-sponsor the event.

"They never wanted us to co-sponsor-what it was, really, was a slap in the face. That's how I took it," Garcia said.

Chris Kulawik, CC '08 and president of the College Republicans, said he extended the opportunity to any group who may have had interest in the topic.

"The moment I heard that Jim Gilchrist was coming, I thought it was a matter of conscience ... to express my outrage that this racist right-wing vigilante group would be given the podium as if it was a legitimate voice," said Ben Becker, CC '05 and a member of the ANSWER coalition.


But opponents don't see the Minutemen as the "community activists" that Kulawik describes. For many members of the Chicano Caucus and other protestors, illegal immigration and the actions of the Minutemen are personal issues.

"Illegal immigration is one thing, but what they're doing to human beings is something else," Yadira Alvarez, CC '10, said. "I'm Mexican, and it's not that I support illegal immigration, but America is a nation of immigrants. There is no way that someone can go against that."

Garcia said that many student groups have already agreed to co-sponsor the protest, including the Black Students Organization, Students for Environmental and Economic Justice, the Columbia College Democrats, Turath, and Students Promoting Education and Knowledge.

First of all, I love the quote "To bring a man who has blood on his hands, almost. ... This is an organization that has been the cause of multiple hate crimes.", by the Chicano Caucus Political Chair. ALMOST. That doesn't mean he DOES, it means he doesn't, and using ALMOST just slants things more toward your point of view. I almost won the lottery last night....which means, I didn't win.

It sounds like the Republican group sent out invitations to multiple groups to learn more on the issue, inviting them to listen to what the man had to say. Instead as the Chicano Caucus political chair said, she took it as a slap in the face instead, not even bothering with possibly thinking there could be other points of view or other possibilities why they were invited.

Next article was addressing this was....

Minuteman Protestors Rush Stage - 10/04/2006
ISO Banner Sparked Brawl Between Demonstrators, College Republicans

Protestors took the stage less than five minutes after Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, took the microphone in Roone Arledge Wednesday night, sparking a chaotic brawl involving more than 30 students, other attendees, and guests of the College Republicans.

Two members of the International Socialist Organization came on stage with a yellow banner reading, "There are no illegals," a signal to others to rush the stage. Gilchrist supporters clamored on stage, fighting with the protestors while Gilchrist and the other speakers were ushered out of the auditorium.

"We were aware that there was going to be a sign and we were going to occupy the stage," said a protestor who was on stage and asked to remain anonymous. "I don't feel the need to apologize or anything. We realize there are consequences for our actions."

Columbia security officers and presidential delegates, University employees who regulate events, broke up the brawl and closed the curtains, forcing everyone to leave the auditorium and eventually the building.

University spokesman Robert Hornsby, who was present at the event, said the presidential delegates would decide the disciplinary procedures for those involved. Participating students would be dealt with under Dean's Discipline, he said, but the response for those involved from outside Columbia was still undetermined.

Ok, first thing, if there was outside supporters of Gilchrist, or College Republicans involved in the fighting, they should be punished. I will state that here and now, because all you do is help incite violence more if you participate in escalating the protestors riotous behaviour they came ready to behave with.

Yes, they came ready to behave in this behaviour, and they state it directly with, "We were aware that there was going to be a sign and we were going to occupy the stage," and "I don't feel the need to apologize or anything. We realize there are consequences for our actions."

They knowingly planned this ahead of time, this was not a spur of the moment "reaction" to Gilchrist's speaking, something in which they wouldn't allow in the first place, claiming their right to "freedom of speech" and yet denying Gilchrist the same right they claim for themselves. Not bothering to even listen to what he has to say, they react by rushing and taking over the stage without bothering to hear a differing point of view.

What a spectacular example of how they teach diversity in thought.

The latest story continues from the one above into this one today:

Protestors Rush Minutemen - 10/05/2006
Gilchrist's Speech Cut Short by Ensuing Brawl

"The specific facts surrounding the incident are under active investigation by the University, so it is premature to make any official statement regarding facts that are yet to be determined," Hornsby told Spectator last night. There were dozens of video and digital cameras in the room, and much of this footage belongs to Columbia groups, but Hornsby would not say whether this footage would factor into the investigation.

The brawl was the culmination of audience dissent which grew louder and more aggressive.

Marvin Stewart, an ordained minister and member of the Minutemen board of directors, was the first speaker. Audience members shouted interjections throughout his address, calling Stewart, who is black, a hypocrite for supporting the Minutemen. Stewart responded by becoming louder and telling the audience that they did not know anything about government.

During a long pause, one audience member shouted, "In Spanish please!" which brought on an enormous wave of stomping feet and applause from the audience. Stewart countered that "one of the requirements of citizenship is that you speak English," before he was completely drowned out by the noise of the audience. Many attendees stood up and turned their backs on the speaker in protest and began chanting "wrap it up."

Eventually Gilchrist and Chris Kulawik, CC '08, president of the College Republicans and a Spectator columnist, called Stewart off the stage. "I clearly had the false assumption that I was at an Ivy League school," Kulawik said as he introduced the main speaker.

"Who's a racist now?" said Gilchrist, putting an arm around Stewart."I love the first amendment!" he shouted. "You're doing a great job, kids. I'm going to have more fun with this than with my prepared speech."

But before he could get much farther, two students stepped on stage with a banner. Student protestors said that the demonstration was meant to be peaceful, but when students with the Republicans and other Gilchrist supporters came on stage, the confrontation turned violent. One student was kicked in the head and bleeding, students reported.

The protestors occupying the stage included members of the ISO, the Chicano Caucus-which organized a protest beforehand on the Broadway sidewalk outside Lerner Hall-and some unaffiliated with either group. Neither student group officially sanctioned rushing the stage.

"We don't condone the actions of members on either side. Either people on stage who were holding up signs, or people who felt that their speaker was being threatened by people holding signs," said Adhemir Romero, CC '07 and president of the Chicano Caucus.

Romero released a statement late Wednesdy from the executive board of the Caucus. "We feel that it is important to discuss and bring to light important issues concerning immigration, though they should be done in a peaceful manner," it said. "While we do not agree with Mr. Gilchrist and his organization's views, we respect everyone's right to freedom of speech and regret that his opinion was not heard."

"I think this demonstrated the immaturity of the protestors," Kulawik said afterwards. "It came to physical violence and rushing the stage, which is never appropriate."

It is interesting that Columbia University had a multitude of video and digital cameras covering the event, and the invident, but they can't say whether the footage would be used in investigation?!?!

Why the hell not?

You have proof in your very hands of the who, what, when and where...and you don't know if you will use it?!?!

The most assinine comment I have heard in this whole mess is from the ignorant speaker who called out, "In Spanish please!", which would irk even myself, because as Gilchrist came back with, "one of the requirements of citizenship is that you speak English", I find his remark right on the mark. Do you enroll in a Unversity in America, and not speak english and demand of the speakers, the University staff, and students that they must speak in your language?

In Spanish please, indeed. [rolls eyes]

I find it completely rediculous that the Caucus comes out with a statement of "peace" and that the rushing fo the stage was not planned, and yet in the previous article their own members stated that it was planned to rush the stage and they understand the consequences of their actions!

"We were aware that there was going to be a sign and we were going to occupy the stage," said a protestor who was on stage and asked to remain anonymous. "I don't feel the need to apologize or anything. We realize there are consequences for our actions."

One thing that should not have happened is this turning violent. I understand if they wanted to turn their backs on him, or even walk out, but to rush the stage, and to have the protest turn violent is criminal. It does state that a student was kicked in the head, but does not state if it was a protestor or supporter. Regardless of which it should never have happened.

We cannot know for certain who started what, but looking at some of the video footage you can definately see a stark contrast on who is acting what way...

To sum up, I think the protestors wanted it to escalate, because as Ben Becker, a member of ANSWER states:

"The moment I heard that Jim Gilchrist was coming, I thought it was a matter of conscience ... to express my outrage.

That you did Ben, good going showing that tolerance, diversity of thought and Freedom of Speech, will never get in the way of expressing your outrage.

Watch the video:

Lest we forget, Columbia also sent an invite to Iranian "President" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and how does it treat protesting this "speaker"?

On a few hours' notice, the Columbia community had moved to act-in less than 24 hours, Iranian "President" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was scheduled to stand in Low Rotunda as an invited guest of the administration. Well accustomed to Columbia's antics, my response has become second nature. That very night, with hopes of an early confirmation, I submitted a protest/space request on behalf of the College Republicans.

Early the following afternoon, I discovered that our advisors in SGB, the Student Governing Board for all groups religious and political, had declined our protest request. The standard cut-and-paste denial reads: "We are unable to approve this space request because it was submitted without sufficient notice. This event requires an Event Review." This was established policy embodied, a policy built on a logical premise. Certain events require advanced notice to allow for cooperation and discussion between the students and the wonderful folks of the lower administration (from advisors to security) who dedicate themselves to bringing these events to fruition.

There is, of course, an inherent problem when Columbia applies cookie-cutter administrative policy universally. With literally one day's notice from the administration, what right do they have to punish student groups for their "late" requests and applications? So long as the administration can abuse such loopholes, they, by their own accepted standards, can invite any speaker and avoid on-campus protest. Campus groups can't skirt controversy as well as their administration. Worse, even for authorized events, student groups must incur the costs associated for heightened security should they wish to brave controversy and protests. Groups on both the political left and right have found this a hard institutional truth to cope with. In all future revisions to Columbia's administrative policy, common sense must prevail: Columbia must distinguish between their usual regulations and the spirit of free and open speech they purport to champion. Regrettably, we must question this commitment to open discussion.


Anyone familiar with Columbia's record, however, would realize that this was not my first denied protest. Nearly a year ago to the day, former columnist Dennis Schmelzer covered an attempt by my Columbia College Conservatives to protest University Invitee Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan strongman. In his deliciously pun riddled article, "How Far Can You Go Against Hugo?" not only does Dennis affirm Columbia's affinity for legitimizing tyrannical despots, he cites clear similarities in administration stonewalling of protests:

" get permission to demonstrate at the Sundial for a 'level 3' event [review] on campus, a student group must reserve the space a week ahead of time". Conveniently, for the Chavez event, notice was only posted on the World Leaders Forum Web site on Sept. 13, more than a week after most other speakers were listed and just three days before the event. So much for the week-long notice for the protest."

Sound familiar? It should.

Every effort taken by the administration to promulgate such exceptionalism to shelter the likes of Chavez and Ahmadinejad is a violation of both student rights and Columbia's long established ideals. Had fate (and a bumbling bureaucracy) not intervened and both tyrants spoken as honored University Guests, what then? Would CU security have followed orders to remove and punish students who participated in those "unauthorized" protests? The simple realization that the University could justify such censorship is truly frightening. More important, why have these flawed policies gone so long unchallenged? Had the University invited President Bush (laughable indeed) and given "one day's notice" as grounds for denied protests, the outcry would be unprecedented.

Sadly, with policies like these, nobody wins-except the dictators.


Others blogging this issue:

Texas Rainmaker with "Liberal’s Hate Free Speech"

Sister Toldjah with "More from the “tolerant left”

Hotair with "Video: Columbia amnesty fascists rush stage at Minuteman speech"

Columbia Unbecoming

Michelle Malkin with "Mob rule at Columbia University"

Sensible Mom with "Minutemen Attacked During Speech"

Atlas Shrugs with "Heroic Minutemen Attacked at Columbia"

Freedom Folks catch "A Liberal Perspective On Free Speech" <- Good Read

Stop the ACLU with "Liberal Mob Storms Minutemen Speech"