Columbia University students whose complaints of politicized teaching sparked a debate on academic freedom applauded new procedures for lodging grievances released yesterday — but said they're not specific enough about which faculty behavior is acceptable.
Students called the procedures "a good first step" but said they fell short because grievances are too broadly defined.
"They're a good sign, but they're lacking a central component, which is identifying what a grievance constitutes," said Ariel Beery of Columbians for Academic Freedom, the student group at the center of the debate.
The procedures follow a university report released two weeks ago that largely dismissed complaints by Jewish students of anti-Semitic conduct by professors but acknowledged that the university lacked a clear protocol for dealing with grievances.
In a letter to students yesterday, Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, said the new procedures "signify important progress" but added, "More work needs to be done."
Under the new guidelines, a faculty committee would decide whether a complaint has merit.
If a complaint is worthy, the committee would make recommendations to the vice president of the college, who would then make a decision. Students may appeal the decision to the provost, who has the final word.
"It's a good step forward. I just want to make sure that students are involved in every step of the process," said Aharon Horwitz, a recent graduate who had complained of faculty bias.