Dear Undergraduate Student,

I want to address a series of statements and events in recent days that denigrate African Americans and other people of color and have proved unusually offensive to members of the Columbia University community, including me. 


I am mindful that we must be very careful to say nothing that might stifle the free expression of ideas, which is an indispensable part of University life. I think it is also important, however, to reaffirm this University's commitment to a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, to the value of diversity within our community, and to the importance of affirmative action in the pursuit of both these goals.  


The health of a university depends both on intellectual freedom and on a climate of mutual respect among its members. I do want to acknowledge the apologies that two student organizations have recently issued. In the future, I hope we will all be sensitive to the great harm that deeply offensive statements inflict both on individuals and on

the fabric of our community.

Lee C. Bollinger

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