When Columbia students like James Simon Kunen acted up in 1968, Columbia President Grayson Kirk commented: “Whether students vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on an issue is like telling me they like strawberries.” Kunen played off Kirk’s comment in the title of his book on the events of 1968, but Kirk’s comment made a good deal of sense then on the issues in question. Indeed, it still makes sense now on the issue of whether ROTC should be welcomed back on campus.
So far as I can tell, however, Columbia President Lee Bollinger has been conspicuous by his silence in connection with the current controversy. Bob McManus notes Bollinger’s silence today in the New York Post.
Bollinger has not heretofore been so reticent. His previous statements on ROTC — one in 2005, one in 2008 — have both been maintained online at the Columbia Web site as though they are the wisdom of the ages.
In fact, they are full of hot air. Bill Kristol summed up Bollinger’s position perfectly in the 2007 editorial “Columbia University: Ahmadinejad yes, ROTC no.” This time around Columbia students may — may — put their elders to shame. Here’s hoping.
UPDATE: Rachel Abrams is also thinking about Bollinger.
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