A Columbia University faculty member has kindly forwarded us this message from President Bollinger:
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I would like to share a few thoughts about today’s appearance of President Ahmadinejad at our World Leaders Forum. I know this is a matter of deep concern for many in our University community and beyond. I want to say first and foremost how proud I am of Columbia, especially our students, as we discuss, debate and plan for this highly visible event.
I ask that each of us make special efforts to respect the different views people have about the event and to recognize the different ways it affects members of our community. For many reasons, this will demand the best of each of us to live up to the best of Columbia’s traditions.
For the School of International and Public Affairs, which developed the idea for this forum as the commencement to a year-long examination of 30 years of the Islamic Republic in Iran, this is an important educational experience for training future leaders to confront the world as it is — a world that includes far too many brutal, anti-democratic and repressive regimes. For the rest of us, this occasion is not only about the speaker but quite centrally about us — about who we are as a nation and what universities can be in our society.
I would like just to repeat what I have said earlier: It is vitally important for a university to protect the right of our schools, our deans and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes.
Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs many, most, or even all of us will find offensive and even odious.
But it should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas, or our naivet