Catholic League president William Donohue dismissed as inadequate the response given by Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger in the wake of the anti-Catholic incident that occurred on September 21 at a Fordham-Columbia football game.  Donohue sent a letter today to the presidents of select New York-area colleges and to the presidents of all Ivy League colleges expressing his concerns.  He contrasted Bollinger’s inaction to the meritorious response that was provided by Stanford’s past president Gerhard Casper when a like incident occurred at Stanford in 1997. 

It should be stressed that the offending Columbia student, Andy Hao, is unrepentant and has indeed made additional anti-Catholic remarks since this episode occurred.  His remarks were also approved by an administrator, Catherine Webster.  President Bollinger has said he is searching for “the appropriate institutional response.”  Below is an excerpt from Donohue’s letter that addresses this point: 

The past president of Stanford University, Gerhard Casper, provides an answer to President Bollinger’s predicament: denounce public displays of bigotry in public and take symbolic steps to sanction the offenders.   

In 1997, there was an anti-Catholic and anti-Irish incident during the half-time of a Notre Dame-Stanford football game.  Following complaints lodged by the Catholic League and others, President Casper publicly apologized for what happened and wrote a personal letter to me expressing his sincere regret.  Importantly, he also saw to it that the band and the athletic director made a public apology.  Indeed, he barred the band from field shows during the next three Stanford-Notre Dame games and ordered a review of its procedure for approving band scripts.

President Casper acted responsibly.  President Bollinger has not.  I hope you would agree and would therefore use the example of President Casper as a role model in the event that bigotry—of any kind—were to unfortunately strike your campus.

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