Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot
Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, January 18, 2023.

According to Inside Higher Ed, half a year following the onset of heightened campus activism spurred by the Gaza war, American students continue to protest vigorously, and in response, in certain institutions, administrators are meting out stricter disciplinary actions, particularly targeting supporters of Hamas and the PA among the student demonstrators.

Toward the end of March, Vanderbilt University authorities apprehended four individuals from a student group that occupied the chancellor’s office. Subsequently, three of them faced expulsion, while the remaining participants received either suspensions or disciplinary probation. Two weeks later in Pomona College, California, 20 masked students were arrested and some have since been suspended, after storming the president’s office and attacking an administrator with a racial slur.


And just last Saturday, the SJP chapter at Rutgers University in New Jersey canceled a planned Gaza solidarity walkout, claiming administration staff warned they would be suspended or expelled.

Last December, the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, and Harvard University, all women, were humiliated by North Carolina representative Virginia Foxx, the top Republican on the House Education and Workforce Committee, for being docile and passive while antisemites were hounding Jewish students on their campuses. Penn’s and Harvard’s presidents were out by January, and the message to American academia was clear: House Republicans were on the prowl, and every rally on their turf would be scrutinized for antisemitism, bullying, and whatever else students who support murderous monsters can come up with.

On Wednesday, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik is scheduled to appear in the Education Committee’s lions’ den, together with the co-chairs of her Board of Trustees.

The Columbia Spectator reported that more than 100 demonstrators gathered at the Sundial on campus on March 24, to protest the IDF’s takeover of the Hamas headquarters, a.k.a. Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. As Shafik later described it, the event “featured speakers who are known to support terrorism and promote violence.” She added: “I want to state for the record that this event is an abhorrent breach of our values.”

One of the speakers at the rally was Khaled Barakat, who has been linked to the terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

President Shafik on April 5 issued a press release saying, “First, we notified law enforcement and we hired an outside investigation firm to uncover all the facts. With their help, we identified organizers and participants and required them to cooperate with the investigation or face immediate discipline. We are still in the process of interviewing students, faculty, and other members of the community and gathering facts. A number of students have been suspended as the investigation continues.”

The press release concluded: “I also want to remind our community that all of our rules and policies matter. Yesterday, students, faculty, and other members of our community chose to hold an unapproved event near academic buildings in violation of our rules and policies. We are in the process of identifying participants and they will face discipline under our policies. This university will only thrive if we can build a strong foundation of respect – both for each other and for our rules.”

The University of Chicago on March 7 issued a report titled, “Understanding Campus Fears After October 7 and How to Reduce Them,” noting:

“The overarching finding is that campus fears related to the current Israel-Palestinian conflict are more intense among certain groups and widespread across the student body than previously known. As a consequence of the conflict, numerous students are fearful because of their support of one side or the other:
56% of Jewish college students felt in personal danger
52% of Muslim college students felt in personal danger
16% of other college students felt in personal danger
This equates to 2 to 3 million college students.
The findings also show that Jewish and Muslim students report fearing for their physical safety, and other students fear being caught in the crossfire. Many are additionally concerned about academic discrimination and loss of professional opportunities.”

Zachary Greenberg from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression told IHE: “In November and December there were a lot of slaps on the wrist, probations and warnings,” but as the violent rallies promoting messages of hate continued, “we’re seeing the suspensions and arrests, with universities throwing the book at students to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Fox News reported on April 7 (College presidents growing a spine? Universities increasingly laying down the law against antisemitism) that in recent days, it seems that some college presidents and leaders are shifting their stance regarding anti-Israel protesters on campus, as at least three colleges have taken action, including expulsions, warnings, or suspensions, against students involved in disruptive protests perceived as antisemitic.

After the Hamas attack on October 7, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, an Israeli special envoy for combating antisemitism, told Fox News: This is a moment of reckoning… for universities, for social media spaces, for elected officials. It’s a moment of reckoning for what we have enabled for far too long in that moral ambiguity if you will. This is a time for moral clarity and courage in calling out the moral ambiguity.”

And thanks to a tough lady from North Carolina named Virginia Foxx, the tide in academia may finally be turning. I’ll explain:

Minouche Shafik is an Egyptian, whose husband, Mohamed El-Erian, is also Egyptian. Based on the history of the past 20 years on US campuses, I for one would have expected her to be more patient with Arab and pro-Arab students whose enthusiasm gets the better part of them. I welcome and praise the fact that President Shafik acted properly to identify and curb bad behavior on her campus. But I also know that without tough Republicans on the education committee, we’d get more of Bernie Sanders’ brew.

Recently, after his own appearance overseas had been interrupted by booing, Senator Sanders said, “You have had hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets in this country because they are absolutely outraged at the humanitarian disaster that is currently taking place in Gaza. They are right.”

If the shoe fits…


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