A prudent invitation

A university has to provide its students with ways to deepen their understanding of world events.

By COLUMBIA SPECTATOR
September 24, 2007 09:03
2 minute read.
A prudent invitation

columbia u 88. (photo credit: )

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Late Wednesday afternoon, students were informed that the President of Iran would be speaking on campus... Monday. The announcement has understandably caused a stir on campus - and around the country - as students, alumni and faculty debate the merits of bringing such a controversial speaker to campus. A university has an obligation to provide its students opportunities to deepen their knowledge and understanding of world events. Columbia has done as much through its invitation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and should be commended for a decision that will earn it few favors in the public eye. Columbia's invitation to Ahmadinejad is an impressive demonstration of the university's respect of free speech and open debate. The Iranian leader is a pivotal player on the world stage, and providing him a forum to speak is the best way for the university to live up to its mission to serve as a "center for public discussion and debate on the large economic, political, social, and cultural questions," as stated in the World Leaders Forum literature. PRESIDENT Ahmadinejad's repression of student protest, denial of the Holocaust, and systematic human rights abuses are reprehensible. However, the university's invitation is not an endorsement of these positions, nor does it legitimize Iran's designated head of state. We may deplore the fact such a vile man has been elevated to the international stage - as we should - but to deny his status as a political leader would be foolish. Rather, the university's invitation prevents a rare opportunity for students to encounter ideas that run completely counter to their values and sensibilities. An educated student body must be willing to be challenged by diverse and upsetting ideas, and Columbia's invitation to the president has provided just such an opportunity. However, now that the university has extended this invitation, administrators must ensure that as many students as possible can benefit from this opportunity. While the university cannot reasonably guarantee that every interested student will have a seat at the event, it should provide overflow rooms where students can watch the speech via simulcast. ADDITIONALLY, all students should be given the opportunity to e-mail questions that they would like the President to address to be considered for selection by President Bollinger or Dean Coatsworth. These measures would ensure that the considerable acrimony and inconvenience generated by Ahmadinejad's appearance are not in vain, and that students are allowed a meaningful academic experience. Most importantly, students must have the space and resources to coordinate protests against Ahmadinejad's ideas. They must have every opportunity to show their disgust with Ahmadinejad's comments or to protest his presence - provided such demonstrations do not prevent the Iranian president from speaking. Columbia has offered students an opportunity to be a part of a global conversation about Iran's place on the world stage. The university's students must live up to their end of the bargain - listening attentively and challenging the president on his positions. From a September 20 Columbia Spectator editorial

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

US President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA
September 21, 2018
President Trump’s Iran Sanctions Working

By MIKE EVANS