US House committee launches antisemitism probe into Columbia University - Hindustan Times
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US House committee launches probe into Columbia’s ‘inadequate response’ to campus antisemitism

ByShweta Kukreti
Feb 13, 2024 09:11 PM IST

After allegations of antisemitism rocked Columbia University, a US House of Representatives committee expanded its investigation into campus bigotry.

After allegations of antisemitism rocked Columbia University, a US House of Representatives committee expanded its investigation into campus bigotry.

Protestors demonstrate near Columbia University on February 02, 2024 in New York City. The demonstrations were held in solidarity with Pro-Palestinian protesters that were allegedly attacked during a protest two weeks ago on the university campus.(Getty Images via AFP)
Protestors demonstrate near Columbia University on February 02, 2024 in New York City. The demonstrations were held in solidarity with Pro-Palestinian protesters that were allegedly attacked during a protest two weeks ago on the university campus.(Getty Images via AFP)

In a letter delivered to Columbia University administrators on Monday, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Committee of Education and the Workforce, said: “We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of Columbia’s response to antisemitism on its campus."

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Foxx cited a "pattern of deeply troubling incidents and developments at Columbia," which included a swastika scrawled in a campus restroom and a Jewish student who was attacked with a stick by a peer following an argument regarding Israeli hostage posters.

Also Read: Israeli student confronts pro-Palestine gathering at Columbia University, 'don't act like surrogates of others' pain'

The letter was sent to five officials at Columbia and Barnard College, including Columbia’s president Minouche Shafik and Barnard’s president Laura Rosenbury.

In response to the letter, a university spokesman told Spectator: “We are committed to combating antisemitism and all forms of hatred. We have received the letter from Chairwoman Foxx and will cooperate fully with any investigation.”

The committee is the same one that in December forced University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Harvard President Claudine Gay to apologise and resign in response to campus antisemitism.

Committee seeks all reports of antisemitic incidents

The letter requests documents from the two schools, including details of a demonstration held on December 12, 2023, by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), two anti-Israeli organisations that had previously been expelled from the campus.

“According to the Columbia Jewish Alumni Association, several Barnard deans passed by the event but failed to stop it, and at least one Jewish student was assaulted at it,” the letter reads.

The letter goes on to detail other complaints of antisemitic occurrences at the school, starting in 2004, and warns that "an environment of pervasive antisemitism has been documented at Columbia for more than two decades before the October 7, 2023, terrorist attack."

The committee has asked for “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents and communications since January 1, 2021” the provost, general counsel, office of the president, and “any Columbia offices focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

It has also sought “all documents and communications reflecting sources of funding for Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, Columbia-Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace,” among other groups.

Also Read: ‘Moral cowardice’, Jewish billionaire Henry Swieca quits Columbia University board over growing ‘antisemitism’

Columbia sees spike in campus tensions since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack

Tensions on Columbia's campus have been escalating since Hamas' attack on Israel and the Israeli military's counteroffensive in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian students claim that during a campus rally in the weeks since the spring semester started, they were sprayed with nauseating chemicals. Two former Columbia students are being investigated by the NYPD as potential suspects in the incident. A demonstration near the university's entrance saw the arrest of at least one Columbia student.

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