Columbia President Testifies On “University’s Response To Antisemitism”

April 19, 2024

It is not tolerated and it is not acceptable, and over the last six months we have done everything we can and have worked tirelessly to improve our policies and our enforcement.

Columbia University President Nemat Shafik testifying before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Wednesday.

Big Picture: During the nearly four-hour hearing, President Shafik as well as a Columbia professor and two trustees testified regarding the University’s response to antisemitism on campus since U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th. According to the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish students at college campuses Experienced a Stark Increase in Antisemitic Incidents After 10/7.” The hearing stands in contrast to a December hearing including the presidents of MIT, Harvard and UPenn; two of the presidents have since resigned following controversy regarding their responses to a question about whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated the schools’ code of conduct. The presidents answered that it depended on the context, while the answer to the same question from Columbia leaders on Wednesday was, “Yes it does.”

On Thursday: In response to pro-Palestinian protests on Columbia’s campus (which began ahead of Wednesday’s hearing), Shafik announced her decision to permit the New York Police Department to remove students protesting from an “encampment” they created on campus, which she said “violated a long list of rules and policies.” Shafik said prior “attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved,” noting, “We work hard to balance the rights of students to express political views with the need to protect other students from rhetoric that amounts to harassment and discrimination.”

Criticizing Shafik’s decision to involve police, the Columbia College Student Council said, “As representatives of the student body, we call upon the university administration to uphold its commitment to fostering and protecting an environment where students can peacefully protest without fear of retribution and suppression for their beliefs.”

Read More: At antisemitism hearing, Columbia official tells lawmakers, ‘We have a moral crisis’ (NPR)

Live Updates: Dozens of Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at Columbia (The New York Times)

Columbia President Admits School Was ‘Not Up To’ Challenge of Oct. 7 Fallout (The Wall Street Journal)

Reps. Stefanik and Foxx News Conference with Columbia University Students (C-Span)

Photo Credit: House Committee on Education and the Workforce via X (formerly known as Twitter)

by Leah Grainery, based in Texas