Last night Columbia vice president for alumni relations Eric Furda emailed the following message to alumni:
Over the past week the scheduled appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia’s World Leaders Forum has sparked debate around the world. Here on campus, in countless conversations, students and faculty challenged one another to think critically about the issues raised by his visit. President Bollinger has answered tough questions from the media and from local and regional politicians. The University has heard from hundreds of alumni on the subject expressing both support and dismay.
Yesterday the Morningside Heights campus was alive as thousands of students participated in peaceful demonstrations and dialogue about issues relating to both Iran and free speech. Many alumni would have been proud of our students who, however intense and disparate their viewpoints, upheld the values of free expression and respect that define the essence of our campus community and our society.
At the World Leaders Forum event in Roone Arledge auditorium, President Bollinger, SIPA interim dean John Coatsworth, and Columbia students called the Iranian President to account for his positions on the Holocaust, Israel, nuclear weapons, homosexuals, women’s rights, and many other matters