Message Regarding the Presidential Election

November 09, 2016

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing because of concerns for our community arising out of yesterday’s national election. Certainly, not in my lifetime has there been a choice that is embraced by so many while also causing feelings of apprehension and vulnerability among so many others, including many students, faculty, and staff across our diverse University community.

There are three primary challenges for the country and, more importantly for purposes of this letter, for our community. The first is that those in distress have the right opportunities to raise and discuss whatever anxieties they are feeling now. I will be personally engaged in this dialogue, and I strongly urge you to seek out the discussions and meetings being planned throughout the University by all schools and departments. The second is that we not let different viewpoints about this election, strong as the feelings on every side might be, descend into intolerance or intimidation. This requires strong intellectual character on all our parts. And the third point is that we all have to make sure that we are able to continue on with the work of scholarship and teaching, which is not only our central mission but ultimately the best answer to overcoming divisions and even the risk, feared by many, that our principles may be violated.

In these moments, we must turn to our fundamental values, among them a commitment to freedom of thought and expression, dedication to tolerance and reason, respect for diversity and differing points of view, and a determination to do what we do with the utmost integrity and courage.


Lee C. Bollinger