As conflicts over campus speech have accelerated in recent months, most of the incidents have occurred outside the classroom. But a recent incident at Columbia University breached that wall.
Last week, a group of student protesters stormed a small class on sexuality and gender law to protest its instructor, Suzanne Goldberg. The Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia and an expert on sexuality and gender, Goldberg is also executive vice president of the Office of University Life. The office oversees aspects of the university’s sexual violence response and compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination and harassment in education.
“We are here today because despite the repeated efforts of student organizers, survivors at Columbia and Barnard [College] are still endangered by administrators like Suzanne Goldberg,” says an undergraduate protester, Amelia Roskin-Frazee, in a video of the incident that has since been shared online. She further accused Goldberg of “proudly referring” to her experience as an LGBTQ rights lawyer “while continuing to create a dangerous environment for students, including queer students, on this campus.”
The video shows Goldberg repeatedly asking the students to leave, citing a university policy against disrupting core university functions. After about two minutes, the students depart, protest signs in tow.
Goldberg said through a spokesperson Tuesday that there are “many times in the day when I am glad to meet with students or hear students’ views on university life issues, but interrupting a class is never acceptable.”
Disrupting a campus “function” even briefly is against university regulations. But Columbia officials did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday about whether the students involved in the protest would face disciplinary action.
Roskin-Frazee declined to comment other than to say…