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Chairwoman: Columbia University ‘doesn’t get it’

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(The Center Square) – Federal committee action taken thus far against Columbia University has not achieved desired results if reports of text messages among administrators are proven true, says a North Carolina congresswoman.

Columbia, says Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., “doesn’t get it” when it comes to antisemitism.

Foxx chairs the House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee. Columbia President Minouche Shafik already has testified before them in April, one of seven leaders for higher ed institutions brought in to discuss their respective Jewish communities.

A release from the Education and Workforce Committee says the school’s reunion weekend May 30 and June 1 included university administrators exchanging “disparaging text messages downplaying antisemitism.”

Foxx, in her 10th term and gunning for a 11th in November, wants the text messages in front of her committee.

“I was appalled, but sadly not surprised, to learn Columbia administrators exchanged disparaging text messages during a panel that discussed antisemitism at the university,” Foxx said. “Dean Josef Sorrett’s weak private ‘apology’ to the College’s Board of Visitors shows that the school doesn’t get it. Columbia’s Jewish community deserves better than this. I have requested Columbia to produce these administrators’ texts by June 26.”

The committee has jurisdiction of education from elementary to higher ed for all Americans. Columbia became a boiling point for protests about the war between Hamas and Israel, starting with an encampment in April and culminating with law enforcement needed to restore order. It drew comparisons to a two-pronged 1968 protest on campus tied to the Vietnam War and segregation.

Even before April, the school known for decades of protests and proudly including such history in class instruction was on the radar of the House committee. Foxx sent Columbia a request Feb. 12 for response to antisemitism and failure to protect Jewish students, faculty and staff.

Two weeks later, Foxx was on campus for a roundtable with Jewish students about campus antisemitism. The release says a student told her, “Jew-hatred is so deeply embedded into campus culture, that is has become casual and palatable among students and faculty and neglected by administrators.”

Co-chairs of the university’s Board of Trustees were with Shafik in front of the committee on April 17. Four days later, she asked the leaders of the school to restore order, and on April 24 she and House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., went to campus and met with Jewish students and Columbia’s leadership.

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