The Columbia [University] Spectator online edition has a note in its sidebar:
Due to an extremely high volume of traffic, the Spectator's Online Edition may load quite slowly at the moment. We're working to speed things up a bitâ€”please bear with us.
I wonder why? Part of it, of course, is this:
Nearly 50 student leaders and a dozen administrators sat down with University President Lee Bollinger for an hour on Thursday for a passionate yet civil discussion to air concerns about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadâ€™s scheduled speech on campus on Monday.
When asked by Bollinger, student leaders overwhelmingly agreed that the event was in line with the academic purpose of the University, but several students expressed their disappointment in Bollingerâ€™s handling of the invitation, with many airing concerns about student participation. Meanwhile, students began to solidify plans for a rally on Low Plaza this Monday.
Studentsâ€™ concerns with the event included the logistics of establishing a rally on campus and the worry that lending Ahmadinejad a podium from which to speak would elevate and legitimize his views. Those in attendance expressed their greatest concerns regarding how students would be involved in the event itself.
Hmmm. Well, Columbia hasn't of late appeared too concerned about lending a podium to or elevating and legitimizing abhorrent views. For more on that, see John Podhoretz's amusing essay "A Terrorist for Tea" in today's NY Post.
And speaking of Nadia Abu El-Haj (Podhoretz does), back at the Spectator, Professor Alan F. Segal responds to some of his critics and explains in substantial detail why he is opposed to granting her tenure. He takes care to address his concerns solely to her scholarship, not her opinions, and he raises several points I haven't seen raised before. Here's part of his conclusion:
But the issue in a tenure scrutiny must be focused on the quality of the work. My opinion comes after having read her dissertation and her book carefully, after having served for six years on Barnardâ€™s ATP committee, and after having been a chair myself, charged with preparing cases in my department, as well as being professionally interested in the fields she needs to make her case. My judgment is â€œNo.â€ Her theory of the production of knowledge in science based on archaeology in Israel is worth little without clear substantiating data. The book is so tendentious that even were a second book-length manuscript available, which one normally expects in this field for tenure in our university, it would probably not change my judgment. Why should we be stampeded into tenuring her, just because there has been negative discussion of her work on the Internet? Ironically, she would have been more successful if she published her dissertation as it is. I respect her desire to add a whole new dimension to her work since her dissertation but it is clear to me that the whole enterprise was unsuccessful.
If you've been making any attempt at all to follow this controversy, this is one piece you don't want to miss. No excerpt can do it justice.