In the past, Columbia has gone to great lengths to protect its speakers. My Sixers colleague Greg Pollowitz emails:
I graduated from Columbia College in 1992. With all that’s being written about CU now a days, I thought this story might be of interest.
It was in 1991. I was in Butler Library “studying” (beer, doritos, etc.). All of a sudden, helicopters, sirens and police were everywhere. There was a reception in another building on campus that night and the hoopla was obviously for that. We were told to stay in the library until our mystery guest had been escorted safely to the reception. As this was where the “studying” was, that seemed ok with us and we didn’t think much more of it until the next day when we found out who was speaking. The event was being held by the Journalism School. The topic: Free Speech. The speaker: Salman Rushdie. This was back in the day when Rushdie was still in hiding and in fear of his life. As ironies go, here’s an interview with Mr. Rushdie from 2003 on his visit to Columbia in 1991 – he’s being interviewed by Univ. President Lee Bollinger. And here are excerpts from his speech that night.