- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2017

Two Columbia University professors recently sent a letter to the institution’s president that linked a “fog” of political suffering to a “cluster of suicides” by students.

Professors Robert Pollack and Letty Moss-Salentijn, the co-chairs of the Columbia Faculty Affairs Committee, contacted Columbia President Lee Bollinger on Feb. 24 about the need to help “faculty to reach into themselves and find strength to express themselves.” The two mentioned student suicides before requesting venues for quiet conversations and easy access to websites dedicated to preserving freedom.

“We know no one at Columbia who is not upset, chronically and deeply, since the election,” the letter reads. “We know this is true of the Administration, and your letter [on executive orders] certainly embodies this distress. We know it is true of our students, and the cluster of suicides this month can have no other meaning.”

Dr. Pollack contacted the educational watchdog Campus Reform on Wednesday to protest its coverage.

“Speaking for both himself and Moss-Salentijn, [Dr. Pollack ] sent a belated response to Campus Reform denying that the letter was intended to insinuate that recent student suicides have been a result of distress over Trump’s election, even though the sentence in question came in the context of describing the universal ‘distress’ at Columbia ever since the election,” the website reported.

“We agree with you that we cannot know the cause of the recent spate in [sic] suicides, but even if it has been wholly a coinicdence [sic], it nevertheless has added to what we call the ‘fog’ that has effected [sic] so many of us at this complicated but caring community of faculty, students, and administrators,” the professor wrote.

The letter was endorsed by 17 professors on the Columbia Faculty Affairs Committee.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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