Columbia University President Hit With Backlash

Columbia University President Hit With Backlash

( – Columbia University has made the headlines several times recently. Hundreds of students gathered to protest the war in Gaza and set up encampments on the grounds. Tensions increased when the university’s president, Minouche Shafik, asked the NYPD to remove the protestors. Now, she’s facing backlash from multiple angles.

Pro-Palestinian protests have occurred in full force for months. However, they’re gaining much more traction at Columbia, where Shafik unapologetically requested assistance from the NYPD on Thursday, April 18. Officers arrested more than 100 students, including Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) daughter, Isra Hirsi. This quickly led to criticism from many who have argued that the move goes against academic freedom.

The previous day, Shafik testified before Congress on anti-Semitism and was questioned by lawmakers about efforts to handle the issue. While she attempted to assure lawmakers that the school was taking anti-Semitism seriously, there have been concerns from lawmakers, students, and professors alike who believe the school isn’t doing enough.

Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), pointed to issues on campus indicating Shafik and her staff had lost control. Johnson paid a visit to the university and noted examples of violence and anti-Semitism. He has called on Shafik to resign. A number of other Republicans such as Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY), and more have also called for her to step down.

However, on Wednesday, April 24, after the Speaker’s visit, the university’s Board of Trustees issued a statement backing Shafik. In it, the board said she was “balancing the disparate voices that make up a vibrant campus like Columbia’s, while taking a firm stance against hatred, harassment, and discrimination.”

Democratic lawmakers are also monitoring the situation. They’ve held news conferences at the Hillel building to address the increased use of hate rhetoric, though they stopped short of asking Shafik to step down. New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) said she supports peaceful assembly, but she cautioned the university to act when Jewish students who attend feel threatened because of their beliefs.

Shafik has not addressed the calls for her resignation.

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