April 23, 2024

By Rachel Schilke


New York House Republicans are demanding that Columbia University President Minouche Shafik resign from her position as pro-Palestinian protests erupt on the campus ahead of Passover, a Jewish holiday.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) led a letter sent to Shafik on Monday saying the president should step down “for failing to put an end to an unsanctioned mob of students and agitators” involved in antisemitic incidents and calls for violence against Jewish students.

The letter comes after clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrators led to calls to protect Jewish students from several local and federal lawmakers and political figures. A Columbia University rabbi encouraged Jewish students to go home because the school could not guarantee the safety of the students. Shafik announced a shift to virtual classes on Monday, the beginning of Passover, due to the high levels of campus unrest.

However, Stefanik and New York Republican Reps. Claudia Tenney, Mike Lawler, Nicole Malliotakis, Nicholas Langworthy, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams, Nick LaLota, Andrew Garbarino, and Marc Molinaro wrote in the letter that Shafik has failed to protect Jewish students “by every measure.”

“Over the past few days, anarchy has engulfed the campus of Columbia University,” the lawmakers wrote. “As the leader of this institution, one of your chief objectives, morally and under law, is to ensure students have a safe learning environment. By every measure, you have failed this obligation.”

The lawmakers claimed that the unrest on Columbia’s campus is a “direct product” of Shafik’s policies and “misguided decisions.”

“As Representatives from the State of New York, many of our constituents are directly impacted by the unfolding chaos on Columbia’s campus,” the Republicans wrote. “Based on these recent events and your testimony in front of Congress, we have no confidence in your leadership of this once esteemed institution.”

“It is time for Columbia University to turn the page on this shameful chapter,” the lawmakers continued. “This can only be done through the restoration of order and your prompt resignation. We, the undersigned members, urge you to step down immediately so that someone who will take action against this mob can step up to meet the moment this crisis demands.”

The New York Republicans join several other congressional lawmakers calling for more protections for Jewish students at Columbia and other universities across the country. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) demanded on Monday that President Joe Biden deploy the National Guard to college campuses to ensure the safety of Jewish students.

On Sunday, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to Shafik scolding her for the “ongoing chaos” at Columbia.

“Columbia’s continued failure to restore order and safety promptly to campus constitutes a major breach of the University’s Title VI obligations, upon which federal financial assistance is contingent, and which must immediately be rectified,” the Republican chairwoman wrote. “If you do not rectify this danger, then the Committee will not hesitate in holding you accountable.”

Stefanik has taken congressional action on instances of antisemitism on college campuses that resulted in the resignation of University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill in December last year and Harvard President Claudine Gay’s resignation in January. Both Magill and Gay had testified on Capitol Hill before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, leading Stefanik to launch a bipartisan effort to oust them from their positions.

Three Jewish House Democrats — Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Dan Goldman (D-NY), and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) — arrived at Columbia’s campus on Monday to meet with Jewish students.

Gottheimer called the protests a “new low” during a press conference outside Columbia’s Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life.

In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Moskowitz said that if Shafik wants to know “what not to do, she should call the former Presidents of Harvard and UPenn.”

Moskowitz spoke directly to Shafik during Monday’s press conference, saying, “We’ve seen this show before.”

“There’s one theme that keeps coming up over and over again, which is the double standard,” Moskowitz said of his conversations with Jewish parents. “They know, and you know, deep down, if this was any minority group, this wouldn’t be happening. It wouldn’t have gotten this far, but because it’s Jews, we’ve fallen into this weird category: Oh, we’re not protected.”

“That’s why antisemitism is on the rise. That’s what the failures were in committee with those presidents, and that’s the failure that’s happening here today,” Moskowitz added, referring to Magill and Gay.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Columbia University, Gottheimer, and Goldman for comment on the Republicans’ letter.