[Certainly, even the worst — short of inciting to riots or other crimes — should be permitted to express their views — particularly on a university campus.  The Minutemen, by all reports, look to be an offensive and potentially dangerous vigilante operation, targeting manifestly Latinos: http://www.minutemanproject.com/  One can, thus, understand the outrage felt by the latter and any of the others of us offended by such gross racist bigotry.  I would hope this fact would be observed by Columbia as a mitigating factor in any disciplinary considerations.  Needless to say Columbia should have anticipated disruption in this instance and made provisions to moderate it.  Ed Kent, Columbia Ph.D. and neighborhood resident who watched in horror first hand the bust of ’68 in which innocent students and faculty were brutally beaten by outer boro cops called in to evict students occupying buildings who had already departed peacefully through underground passageways.]

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CU Presses Minutemen Investigation
Disciplinary Procedures for Protesters Still Undecided
By Laura Brunts
Issue date: 10/11/06 Section: News Columbia Spectator

Almost a week after students and other audience members rushed the stage during a speech by Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, administrators have still not reached a decision on what disciplinary measures will be used to deal with those involved.

Student Affairs staff members have been in contact with specific groups since last week, but administrators have not yet approached individual students involved in the melee on stage.

“It’s simply too early to make any judgment about whether there are disciplinary actions that should be taken, but … there are very long-standing procedures that we follow in these cases. This is not something we take lightly,” University President Lee Bollinger said at a Monday press conference announcing Columbia’s Nobel Prize winner, Edmund Phelps.

“My own view is that taking a stage, seizing a stage, when there’s a speech, is inappropriate and does constitute a disruption. Whether or not that happened here, what the explanation is of those who may have done that, is a matter for particular adjudication within the process,” he added.

What process the administration will use, however, remains unclear. In most cases, student discipline is left to the discretion of the deans of the individual schools, a procedure called Dean’s Discipline.

The Rules of University Conduct, however, outline special rules for demonstrations, rallies, and picketing “to protect the rights of free expression,” according to the Facts About Columbia Essential To Students handbook. A student charged with a serious violation of the rules has a choice between Dean’s Discipline and a more formal procedure. Punishments under this process range from a “disciplinary warning” to expulsion.

“The University cannot determine, until the investigation is complete, which disciplinary procedure will be used,” University spokesman Robert Hornsby said on Tuesday.

As for how Columbia will deal with individuals from outside the University, Bollinger said Monday that “there are other ways that that can be dealt with, particularly through criminal processes, and we’ll just have to see how this unfolds.”

Stephen Rittenberg, senior vice provost for academic administration, is in charge of Columbia’s investigation, which Hornsby said may include administrators outside of Public Safety. Although Hornsby could not say what specific means will be used, there is a wealth of information already in the public domain, including photographs and video footage from a variety of media outlets.

So far, the protesters who rushed the stage have not been singled out by the administration. David Judd, SEAS ’08 and president of the International Socialist Organization, said he has communicated with Jason Anthony, the student activities coordinator for student affairs.

“The people on stage-as such-have had no administrative contact, even at the advisor level, that I know of,” Judd said in an e-mail. “It’s weird, I think, that they’re conducting an investigation about a very public event and yet haven’t informed anybody in particular that they are being investigated. … We’re happy to leave the next move to the administration for now, although of course we’re very curious.”

General Studies Dean of Students Mary McGee sent out an e-mail Tuesday evening to the School of General Studies, inviting students to meet with her if they were involved in the protest. She said she and GS Assistant Dean Dominic Stellini “would like to discuss … our understanding of how the University is proceeding in response to this event.”

Chris Colombo, dean of student affairs for Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, who was present at the meeting with Bollinger, also met with the Chicano Caucus Tuesday morning and plans to talk to the Columbia University College Republicans. The two groups asked to meet with him directly.

Bollinger, McGee, Columbia College Dean Austin Quigley, and other high-level Columbia administrators also met with leaders from the undergraduate student councils, the University Senate, and various governing boards Tuesday afternoon in Lerner C555.

The group discussed the protest in the context of the new student affairs-led Community Principles Initiative. Much of the conversation was focused on how to allow controversial speakers to come to campus while maintaining an open dialogue, according to CC Student Council president Seth Flaxman, CC ’07.

“One thing that’s clear … is that the event, taken in totality, was unsuccessful,” he said. “No one wants to have a repeat of that-no one.”

John Davisson and Tom Faure contributed to this article.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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