Updated April 22nd, 2024 at 13:42 IST

Chaos in Campuses: Protests at Columbia University Spark Bipartisan Criticism

After MIT, Harvard and Penn, Columbia University becomes the latest focal point for congressional concern.

Reported by: Sagar Kar
Pro-Palestinian protestors at Columbia University. | Image:AP
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Controversial demonstrations in support of Palestine at Columbia University have ignited a wave of bipartisan backlash from Washington, as allegations of antisemitic incidents overshadow the campus activism.

Columbia University becomes the latest focal point for congressional concern regarding the surge in antisemitism, following similar scrutiny directed at Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania in the preceding year.

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What is White House saying?

Andrew Bates, spokesperson for the White House, condemned the escalating tensions, stating, "Calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly Antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous – they have absolutely no place on any college campus."

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What are Democrats saying?

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) expressed deep concern, remarking, "I am appalled at the virulent antisemitism being displayed on Columbia University's campus."

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What are Republicans saying?

Republicans have gone a step further, with House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) demanding the immediate resignation of Columbia President Minouche Shafik, asserting that such incidents cannot be tolerated.

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Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) emphasized the need for decisive action, stating, "Those who target Jewish students need to be identified and expelled," adding that college leaders failing to ensure safety should face consequences.

What now?

Jewish representatives, including Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), plan to stand in solidarity with Jewish students and address the situation directly at Columbia on Monday.

The backdrop to these events includes recent testimony by Columbia President Minouche Shafik and other university leaders before the House Education and Workforce Committee. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) highlighted the acknowledgment of the surge in antisemitism at Columbia but stressed that protests had escalated with virulently antisemitic chants.

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Manning urged Columbia to take stronger measures against antisemitism, echoing calls for legislative action to counter antisemitism outlined in the U.S. National Strategy.

As the debate intensifies, both within the university and on the national stage, the spotlight remains firmly fixed on Columbia University's response to the troubling incidents on its campus.

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Published April 22nd, 2024 at 12:08 IST