Bias at Columbia

One mention of Columbia University and most people think of pride, integrity, and prestige among many other admirable qualities that are associated with the Ivy League. They don’t think of nooses and swastikas.

But such has been the case in recent weeks after the school received heavy criticism for two similar incidents that both occurred at the Teachers College, both carrying obvious messages of hate.

On October 10, Madonna G. Constantine, a black professor at the college, was shocked to find that a noose had been hung in the doorway of her office.

Though many were angered and students even protested in response to the incident, the act was attributed to a trend of similar noose hangings that have plagued universities over the past few months.

That changed a couple of weeks ago when a swastika was found painted on the office door of Jewish professor Elizabeth Midlarsky, leading many to question the level of racial tolerance and diversity at a university ranked ninth in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report.

“Such vicious actions are the work of hate-filled, angry individuals who have no place here or in any community that values inclusion and respect,” said school president Susan Fuhrman and Tom James, the school’s academic provost, in a statement issued on the school’s website.

They went on to say how the school had acquired a solid reputation for openness and acceptance in addition to its academic record.

According to, Colombia’s student population is comprised 24 percent blacks and Hispanics.

Fortunately, we here at St. John’s have not experienced such cowardly acts of racism.

Though far from perfect, one thing that this University can say proudly is that it accepts a vast array of diverse students and that has led to a level of tolerance not found at some other colleges.

Still, it cannot be fully said with absolute confidence that many of our students are as tolerant of ethnic and cultural differences as it would appear.

It is unfortunate, but our society is still one deeply divided over such issues, and various news items remind us of that everyday.