Statements and Speeches 

October 27, 2004

The following statement was issued by President Lee C. Bollinger after viewing “Columbia Unbecoming,” a film produced by the David Project.

The student accounts in the David Project film “Columbia Unbecoming” are troubling, and we take them very seriously. Columbia University does not condone the intimidation of students or discrimination of any kind.

Because of the disturbing and offensive nature of incidents described in the film, I’ve asked Provost Alan Brinkley to look into them and to ensure that the University is upholding its commitment to foster a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect within the community.

The University is committed to the core principle of academic freedom in teaching and research. But that principle is not unlimited. It must be viewed within the context of the University’s other values. It does not, for example, extend to protecting behavior in the classroom that threatens or intimidates students who express their viewpoints. The value of academic freedom applies equally to students who must be free to learn and explore ideas in a constructive atmosphere.

While it is premature to discuss how we will evaluate and respond to the student accounts in the film, we recognize that protecting and upholding academic freedom requires having a clear, consistent, and well-articulated process for airing grievances. It is important that students and faculty have full confidence that the process is fair, transparent, and accessible.

I am committed to a University environment where our students can inquire freely, and our faculty can impart their knowledge and wisdom in ways that promote dialogue, civil discourse, and mutual understanding.