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Columbia president holds her own under congressional grilling over campus antisemitism that felled the leaders of Harvard and Penn


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Lynn Greenky

Apr. 18 2024

How did today’s hearing differ from the one on Dec. 5?

Unlike Claudine Gay, Liz Magill and Sally Kornbluth – the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and MIT, respectively – Shafik and the other witnesses representing Columbia University spoke with greater moral clarity on the issue of what constitutes antisemitism on campus. Of course, they had the benefit of being able to first see what happens when you don’t.

Columbia’s president, Minouche Shafik, as well as David Schizer and David Greenwald, co-chairs of the Columbia University Task Force on Antisemitism, and Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees Claire Shipman, came ready to acknowledge their responsibility, even culpability, in their failure to recognize and control hate speech directed at Jews on campus. Shipman in particular made it clear that Columbia is suffering a “moral crisis” on its campus.

All of the witnesses showed a lot of deference to the committee. They even thanked the committee for the investigation and asked for the committee’s help to address antisemitism on campus. In fact, Shipman concluded her opening statement saying she looked forward to the committee’s input as Columbia seeks to refocus its vision back to its core values of wisdom, empathy and respect.

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Columbia's Joseph Massad Calls BS on University President Minouche Shafik's Testimony
'President Shafik misconstrued what happened,' professor says

Jessica Costescu    
April 18, 2024

Columbia University professor Joseph Massad emerged on Wednesday contradicting claims made by the school's president earlier that day before a congressional panel.

Massad told the Electronic Intifada that, contrary to Shafik's claims, he is not to his knowledge under any investigation by university officials, nor has he been removed from his post as chairman of the school's Academic Review Committee.

"I remain the chair of the Academic Review Committee, a one-year position, for the next few weeks, which is the normal end of my chairmanship," Massad said. "Indeed, I just had a meeting with the committee staff yesterday [16 April] and informed them that I will miss the next and final meeting on 8 May, due to my travel schedule. No one has contacted me at all from the university with regards to my current chairmanship. I will also remain a member of the Academic Review Committee next year, which is a three-year appointment."

Massad's statement contradicts Shafik's testimony to the committee, during which the university president said Massad is "under investigation" and was "spoken to" over an Oct. 8 op-ed he published in the Electronic Intifada. Massad in the op-ed lauded Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel as "incredible" and "awesome." Shafik said that she was "appalled" by the op-ed and that Massad was told the language in his piece was "unacceptable."

Shafik also suggested Massad was removed from his role as the chairman of the Columbia Arts and Sciences Academic Review Committee, which conducts reviews of the school's departments and guides "administrative decisions." After Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) informed Shafik that Columbia's website still listed Massad as the chairman of the committee, Shafik backtracked from the claim and pledged to remove Massad from the chairmanship.

The discrepancies could spell trouble for Shafik, given that the House committee's Republican members said they would not hesitate to hold another hearing should they deem one necessary. The committee is in the process of obtaining internal documents related to Columbia's response to campus anti-Semitism.

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