Opinion | Op-eds

Bollinger: Speak up when we need to hear from you

  • SPEAKING OUT | Bollinger defended M. Dianne Murphy in a letter to Spectator last week.

To President Bollinger:

I was surprised to see that you had written a letter to the editor of Spectator on Nov. 20. I was more surprised to see that its subject was a defense of Athletic Director M. Dianne Murphy’s employment.

President Bollinger, from what I’ve observed over the years, the undergraduate students here respect you and your daunting, dignified ways. We look up to you as the leader of our beloved school, a defender of diversity in college admissions, and our stern professor of constitutional law. You even have a nickname in our books, meaning that, undoubtedly, we even hold a certain affection for you.

It is with this awareness of our admiration that I write to explain my disappointment that, of all the turmoil your undergraduates have faced in recent years, a call for M. Dianne Murphy’s termination was the first issue important enough to prompt your only published message to students in a student space—this newspaper.

Because there have been other times when we wanted, expected, or needed to hear from you, President Bollinger. We needed to hear from you in August 2012 when a promising young first-year committed suicide during orientation week, and all of Columbia, not just undergraduates, walked into their first classes in the shadow of great tragedy.

We expected to hear from you a year before that, when the dean of Columbia College, the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the University provost all left their posts within a year and we were thrown into confusion about what would happen to our school and our education.

We wanted to hear you reaffirm Columbia’s commitment to diversity in light of recent incidents motivated by deep-rooted and casually-voiced racism, sexism, and homophobia among students selected to represent our school.

We waited for you to respond to reports that a professor was the victim of a hate crime, or to the College’s referendum on divestment supported by 73.7 percent of the student body, as President Drew Faust did at Harvard. Any of these issues—rather than your endorsement of Murphy’s job performance to students who have neither a say in her employment nor a deep fear about what her employment means for our school’s moral character—were worthy. 

President Bollinger, when I heard that you wrote a letter to Spectator, I was happy that you chose to come and address an issue in a student forum. Rather than send us an email or write us a press release, you chose to engage in conversation with us—in our space. But now that I’ve read your letter, I can’t help but feel that it was written to mollify someone who was offended by the editorial, like a supporter of Ms. Murphy or a trustee whose support we don’t want to lose. I think that even though you sent your letter to a newspaper run and read by students, we weren’t your true intended audience.

President Bollinger, I still hold out hope that one day you’ll really speak to us. When you finally do, we will listen.

The author is a Columbia College senior majoring in English. She is the president of the Columbia College Student Council.

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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Anonymous posted on

Thank you for writing this op-ed Daphne!

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CC'14 trying to get her voice heard posted on

This is what the administration at Columbia needs to understand. That we are students and that we need to be heard of our problems, our struggles, our hopes, our tears, our happiness, and our sorrows. Thank you Daphne.

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Anonymous posted on

Good stuff, tastefully written. Also Bollinger rocks tho

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Rich Forzani 66C posted on

Daphne

I want to compliment you on an incredibly well written and thoughtful comment. You touched upon a number of dimensions regarding the event described, all of which deserve respect and response.

Well done.

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HCE posted on

http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/087/427/Slow-Clap.gif

In all seriousness, though, this op-ed is one of the best and most accurate pieces of writing I've ever read at Spec. Thanks, Daphne.

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CC'15 posted on

realtalk.

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Anonymous posted on

Daphne you are 100% right. Thank God for people like you who say it like it is!

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Anonymous posted on

This is exactly what we need our student leaders to be doing. Props to Daphne and CCSC for their strong voices on campus all semester.

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SEAS 14 posted on

Daphne, you're gonna change the world.

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Claire posted on

Daphne! This op-ed makes you look really skinny!!!!!!

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Urban Shmacked Lord posted on

President Bollinger, we all just want Columbia to be a more fun place. Students here are stressed here and the war on fun has greatly damaged campus social life. I wish that Newsweek didn't rank us first in their most stressed list, it's like this education sank us why can't I be stresless?

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CC'17 posted on

absolutely brilliant piece. best op-ed i've read in the spec yet. congratulations

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Anonymous posted on

I appreciate the content of this opinion piece greatly. Prezbo does need to interact with the student body as a whole more directly and more often. As our president, he is also our leader. This is quite an interesting message coming from a very vocal student council president.
I think the part at the end questioning the authenticity of his article is another, separate problem relating to this case specifically. Prezbo's article did not give us the answers we are looking for and only addressed the superficial criticisms in the original editorial. Murphy's role on campus needs to be reexamined, not justified.

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Anonymous posted on

Sie ist kaput.

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Anonymous posted on

Entweder Sie SIND kaputt, oder DU bist kaputt.

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Anonymous posted on

Really? You mean you will listen even if he continues to speak through his ass?

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Anonymous posted on

Columbia student trying SO HARD to find something negative to say in response to a great op-ed. Congrats!

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Anonymous posted on

This is a powerful essay. But it's time the student body gets honest about prezbo. He doesn't give a shit. He doesn't care that this school is #1 for stress years in a row. He doesn't care how we feel when one of us jumps out the window. He doesn't care that his fancy ways create a class system in Columbia. He doesn't care that Dodge gets rainforest-humid from people's sweat on a permanent basis.
He's a rotten fruit, and it's too bad University presidents don't get a vote.

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alum in agreement posted on

Thank you, Daphne. Wish this conversation could have taken place during my time at Columbia.

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BC 2015 posted on

Fabulous op-ed.

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nickparker14 posted on

What an op-ed!

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Lee Bollinger posted on

Dear Daphne,

I'm more than happy to speak. You raise some excellent points, and I'm almost swayed to begin publicly addressing the Columbia community in times of need, or even otherwise for that matter. I just have to say, I'm confused by your use of the term "undergraduates." What do you mean? Is there an undergraduate college at Columbia? If so, why hasn't anyone told me?

Anyways, I'm off to another brunch with a major donor.

Toodles,
PrezBo

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anon posted on

See you in the White House someday, Daphne!

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Anonymous posted on

This is FANTASTIC. I hope PrezBo responds to this.

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Anonymous posted on

I wonder what PrezBo can say. An apology would be meaningless. A justification for his silence in the past would just sound petty.

I'll be happy if and when PrezBo changes his approach. We'll have to wait and see what happens next time a crisis or major campus event rolls around, but I'm hopeful that Daphne's message will resonate.

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Anonymous posted on
This comment has been deleted in line with our comment policy.
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Anonymous posted on

Prezbo was hired to be as equivocal as possible, so that the administration could continue doing what they do with as little change as possible. He was hired for that, and what is probably a tupée.

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CC'14 posted on

*slow clap*
But seriously. Tastefully written and a description of a perspective that we've all felt for years. Thanks, Daphne.

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Anonymous posted on

This op-ed is so well-written and addresses the issues that most Columbia students can relate. Thank you for writing this!

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Anonymous posted on

Please read this: http://change-magazine.org/2013/11/divestment-project-ineffective-altruism/.

Also, remember that 25% of the student body voted in this "referendum." Also, remember that a similar number voted in your election. I know that you take pride in "your elections," but use your brain along with you heart, because President Bollinger has done much more than you have at Columbia University.

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Anonymous posted on

Please read this: http://change-magazine.org/2013/11/divestment-project-ineffective-altruism/.

Also, remember that 25% of the student body voted in this "referendum." Also, remember that a similar number voted in your election. I know that you take pride in "your elections," but use your brain along with your heart, because President Bollinger has done much more than you have at Columbia University.

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CC '14 posted on

...and he has also received a much greater salary than she has.

Oh wait, I forgot, she PAYS to go here. As in, making positive changes at Columbia isn't part of a job description for her.

Hmm... I wonder why she does it, then. Maybe because unlike a certain University president, she ACTUALLY CARES ABOUT US!

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Bollinger's Army posted on

Daphne does not speak for us, PrezBo! She won her election out of voter apathy, so please, Daphne, until you can garner an actual majority of the electorate, just write as Daphne Chen. We know who our real president is.

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Even if she didn't win an "actual majority" posted on

how does that in any way impact the validity of her op-ed? Fact - during all of the incidents that Daphne wrote of, PrezBo did not write an editorial in response. Regardless of whether the "actual majority of the electorate" voted, there are many students (especially undergraduate) who would much rather have seen him address the other issues Daphne wrote of.

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