Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dershowitz on Columbia University's Anti-Semitism Scandal

Interviewed by CAMERA:
I have a letter in front of me from one of the most prominent alumni, a major contributor, who says: 'I'm poised to replace Columbia as the main beneficiary of my charitable remainder trust.' If President Bollinger thought that he would calm fears about the one-sidedness by appointing a committee that includes two people who are part of the problem, not part of the solution, he was misguided...

DP: What’s the difference between free speech and academic freedom?

AD: Free speech and academic freedom apply to what a professor says outside of the classroom. Academic freedom does not entitle the professor to limit discussion in class ideologically. However, if a professor wanted to, he or she could say "I just do lectures, there are no questions." Why anybody would take that course, I don’t know, but a professor has the right to do that. And a professor has the right to say, "I will call on students based on alphabetical order, or based on who raises their hands first," but a teacher cannot refuse to take questions from a student based on content, and a teacher may not punish students for the ideological content of their views. Nor can students be restricted from attending a class, or registering for a class based on their ideological views.

These principals are part of the academic freedom and freedom of speech of the students, and the university must always balance, particularly in the setting of a classroom, the academic freedom and speech rights of the student versus the academic freedom and free speech rights of a professor.