As our university has made clear from the outset of this recent story, we are deeply concerned about any government activity that would chill the freedom of thought or intrude upon student privacy, both of which are so essential to our academic community. We did not know about or condone the surveillance of publicly accessible websites by the NYPD. Like the city that is our home, Columbia prides itself on being a place that welcomes the widest possible diversity of people, regardless of race, nationality, religion, or political viewpoint. Freedom of speech and association, the right to worship as one chooses, and the right to personal privacy from government are not only American values enshrined in our Bill of Rights, they are essential values of any great university. We have repeatedly defended these values at Columbia in recent years and will continue to do so. We want to be sure our Muslim community knows that we support everyone’s right to carry on their lives and their studies without the feeling of being watched by a government that exists to protect us all.
Lee C. Bollinger