Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Columbia Professor Finds Noose Outside Office Door

We'll first condemn this act if indeed someone at Columbia hung a noose outside the door of a black professor as a means of intimidation. Still, I can't help be suspicious about the convenient timing of this incident and the Jena 6 case.

It's not as if there haven't been phony cases of alleged bias on college campuses of late.

Black Columbia professor finds noose at office
A black professor at Columbia University's Teachers College found a hangman's noose on her office door yesterday, an act that university officials immediately condemned and reported to police.

"The Teachers College community and I deplore this hateful act, which violates every Teachers College and societal norm," Susan Fuhrman, president of the college, said in a statement.

The professor who was targeted, faculty and students said, has distinguished herself as a scholar in race relations. Neither police nor the college identified the 44-year-old professor.

"She's very passionate about social justice and equality," said Shawn Maxam, 26, of Brooklyn, who is studying music education and sociology education at Teachers College. "I'm not surprised or shocked. There are issues surrounding race and class at Teachers College."

Other students said they were hurt after learning of the incident.

"I'm shocked," said Nichole Henry, 23, who is studying to become a physical education teacher. "For a hate crime to go down at Teachers College, this is such a diverse school.

"I can't believe it. It's really disappointing. It hurts."
Again, such an act is deplorable, but is it beyond the realm of possibility this teacher is trying to promote a cause and decided to stage this incident?
Debbie Sonu, 31, a fourth-year doctoral student in urban education, said she was disappointed about the incident but encouraged by the school's swift response.

"It's a wake-up call," Sonu said.

She made reference to the case of the six black teenagers in Jena, La., who civil rights activists have said were treated unfairly by the local criminal justice system and prosecuted overzealously when fights along racial lines broke out at their school last year.
Take a look at the volume of stories currently available about this story. If by chance this incident was staged by the professor or another school employee, will there be a comparable wave of reports? Or will we hear gibberish about how we must understand what drove someone to perpetrate a hoax?

The New York Post identifies the professor as Madonna Constantine and suggests the possible suspect is another professor.
Sources said the sickening act targeting award-winning author and psychologist Madonna Constantine, 44, may stem from a bitter academic dispute with a white rival professor.

"They're investigating whether another professor put the noose there rather than a student," one source said. "They have someone they're looking at, another professor who had a rivalry with her and was jealous over the work she did."
Coming on the heels of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia, this is a rather curious take.
Another student tied the incident to the university's infamous invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at the school last month.

"This is same Columbia that let a murder[er] and racist [speak] in a public forum and the crowd cheered him. It begs the question: Is Columbia not encouraging this type of behavior?" the student wrote on the Web.

Constantine could not be reached for comment. She taught at Ohio State University before Columbia.

According to the only entry about her on the Web site "Rate My Professors,"Dr. Constantine is fun and informative . . . a bit biased and something of a feminazi, but not to any offensive extent."
Constantine is the author of this book.

Video from WNBC here.

Columbia President Lee Bollinger had a statement.
"This is an assault on African Americans and therefore it is an assault on every one of us," Bollinger said in a statement. "I know I speak on behalf of every member of our communities in condemning this horrible action."
More from the Columbia Spectator.

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