Bollinger, Spar release new statement on the BC/CC comment war over Obama
The news that President Barack Obama, CC ’83, would speak at Barnard’s commencement this May opened a whole new layer of the sometimes-strained Barnard–Columbia relationship.
In hundreds of comments on Spectator and on two Bwog articles, many CC students were upset that one of their most famous alums would not be speaking at his alma mater in his first trip to Morningside Heights as president, and they lashed out at their peers who were reveling in the news.
In a New York Times article today about the comments, University President Lee Bollinger called CC students’ disappointment “completely understandable.” Barnard President Debora Spar excused some of the online comments as “19-year-olds writing at 4:30 in the morning.” But administrators’ statements upset a different round of commenters, who called on Bollinger and Spar to condemn the hateful comments from the weekend.
Bollinger and Spar offered new comments this evening, telling a Spec reporter in a joint statement, “We join in the sentiments expressed by so many of our wise and thoughtful students that disrespectful comments are not representative of our community. Our collective undergraduate student body takes justifiable pride in the uniqueness of their individual schools even as they share so many of their collegiate experiences.”
Full statement, plus a roundup of Obamanard in the media, after the jump, and be sure to check tomorrow’s paper for a full story from the News Desk.
Joint statement from Bollinger and Spar:
President Obama’s upcoming commencement address is most certainly a point of pride for a university community that encompasses several institutions. We understand that, for some, there’s an entirely natural disappointment that today finds a convenient outlet in online comments, but we join in the sentiments expressed by so many of our wise and thoughtful students that disrespectful comments are not representative of our community. Our collective undergraduate student body takes justifiable pride in the uniqueness of their individual schools even as they share so many of their collegiate experiences. The larger point here, one we are confident will define the Columbia community’s view of the President’s return to Morningside Heights, is that the first Columbia graduate elected President of the United States will be addressing not only Barnard’s graduates, but the entire nation, from our campus. That is something that every part of the university can and should celebrate.
The undergraduate reaction has been widely covered in the media over the last two days. An excerpt from the New York Times story this morning, explaining the gist of the arguments:
To sum up: Either Barnard College is academically inferior to Columbia, or those who say so are misguided or misogynist; either Mr. Obama has snubbed Columbia, or this is great news and everyone in Morningside Heights should revel in it.
A Jezebel post highlighted the misogyny and elitism at play, excerpting from Bwog comments:
“While you guys were perfecting your deepthroating techniques and experimenting with scissoring and anal play, we were learning Calculus (usually by sophomore year of high school).”
“Why would we want to lower the implied standard of our education by saying that Barnard is part of Columbia?”
A Change.org petition started by Caroline Kim, BC ’13, had over 300 signatories as of this posting, calling on students to stand in solidarity against misogyny:
We urge you to show your support and solidarity against the sexism and prejudice that fragment the strength of our community as well as our commitment to mutual respect. Act now and demonstrate your unwillingness to tolerate hatred.
And a Facebook group, “I love bold, beautiful women on both sides of Broadway,” started by Leah Greenbaum, CC ’12 and a former Spectator news editor, has grown to over 450 members. (UPDATED: It’s at over 728 as of 10:13 p.m., half an hour since this post was written.) Greenbaum wrote at 9:29 p.m.:
The infamous bwog post has 825 comments… can this group get more members/lovers of unity and friendship??? Add your friends!
(UPDATED AGAIN: The group has 860 members as of 10:20 p.m. and has surpassed the number of commenters on the Bwog post in question.)
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