Columbia Charges Students With Violating Protest Rules · 23 December 2006

By Karen Arenson - New York Times

Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, announced the disciplinary proceedings in a letter to the university community yesterday that was also released publicly. But he said he would not provide further details because of federal rules governing student privacy.

The charges will be heard next semester by the deans of the individual schools the students are enrolled in. Possible sanctions include disciplinary warning, censure, suspension and dismissal.

Mr. Bollinger noted that as president, he is also the “final avenue of appeal for those found to be in violation of University Rules.”

The disrupted program, sponsored by a campus Republican group on Oct. 4, featured speakers from the Minuteman Project, which opposes illegal immigration and has mounted civilian border patrols.

Protesters unfurled a banner on stage during one speech, and were then attacked by the speaker’s supporters, including some from outside Columbia. The melee was broken up by Columbia security officers.

Mr. Bollinger said the university would tighten rules governing all student events, and require advance agreements about how events will be staged and who from outside Columbia will be allowed to attend. Mr. Bollinger also said that several of the outsiders involved in the melee had been notified that they would no longer be allowed on campus.

Chris Kulawik, president of the Columbia University College Republicans, which invited the Minuteman speakers, said he would have liked more specifics about how Columbia officials would punish the protesters.

“We still don’t know what avenues they are pursuing and whether they are taking any major action,” said Mr. Kulawik, a junior majoring in political science and history.

Eva Fortes, a sophomore who plans to major in comparative literature and society and to minor in linguistics, expressed concern about “the bureaucracy” that student groups would face in sponsoring speakers and the light sanctions for the non-Columbia people who were involved in the scuffle.

“It kind of upset me,” she said, “that people not affiliated with Columbia and who came and breached university policy, they’re just getting told, ‘Don’t come back,’ when they were involved in physical assaults.”