I am appalled by Assistant Professor Nicholas De Genova's outrageous comments. I want to assure you that his comments in no way represent my views nor anyone with whom I have spoken at the University. His comments were not made in a classroom, but rather at a teach-in, an informal gathering where faculty and students come together to discuss and debate the pressing and important issues of the moment. They are not authorized or officially sanctioned classroom experiences.
Assistant Professor De Genova was exercising his freedom of speech when he made those remarks. However, free speech does not insulate him from criticism. Our faculty and students, regardless of their position on the war, have not been silent in their denunciation of his remarks.
While Nicholas De Genova's words properly invite anger and sharp rebuke, there are few things more precious on any University campus than freedom of thought and expression. That is the teaching of the First Amendment and I believe it should be the principle we live by at Columbia University.
At a time of war, when American troops are in harm's way, his comments are especially disturbing. I am particularly saddened for the families of those whose lives are at risk and who must endure the pain provoked by his statements.
Lee C. Bollinger
April 3, 2003