update deskSchools & Higher Education

Columbia, Barnard students decry ‘inaction’ after ‘attack on all Jews’

“When I’m asked, ‘Do you feel safe at Columbia University?’ I say, ‘No. I don’t feel safe,’” said 20-year-old Jessica Brenner.

The Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning at Barnard College in New York City. Credit: Mollywollydoodle via Wikimedia Commons.
The Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning at Barnard College in New York City. Credit: Mollywollydoodle via Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish students at Columbia University and Barnard College say the schools have been disappointing in their responses to increasing antisemitism on campus following the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.

“Students chant, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free,’ which is a call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel,” Eli Shmidman, 26, a second-year law student at Columbia, said at a news conference on Monday.

A student yelled “F*** the Jews” at Shmidman on Oct. 19, the New York Post reported. “What did the Columbia administration do in response to that antisemitic rhetoric?” Shmidman said. “Nothing.” He called it an “an attack on all Jews.”

Minouche Shafik, the president of Columbia, said on Oct. 9 that she was “devastated by the horrific attack on Israel this weekend,” but did not mention Hamas or terrorism, the Post reported. 

Joseph Massad, a politics and history professor at the university, wrote an Oct. 10 article in which he praised the attacks, “calling it ‘astonishing,’ ‘astounding’ and ‘incredible,’ as well as a ‘stunning victory of the Palestinian resistance’ against ‘cruel colonizers,’” the Post added. 

“The university has yet to take any action or comment on his stance,” the paper added.

“I feel walking on campus, many people just want me to die,” Jessica Brenner, 20, a psychology student at Barnard, was reported as saying. “I have to walk around and go to my class and see someone and think they might want me to not exist or not want my people to exist—I don’t take a step without thinking about that.” 

“When I’m asked, ‘Do you feel safe at Columbia University?’ I say, ‘No. I don’t feel safe,’” she said.

Yoni Kurtz, 21, a history student, said the “university’s response has not been action, but empty statements. Do not abandon your students Columbia, take action now.”

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