update deskSchools & Higher Education

Columbia suspends four students for holding event featuring PFLP member

The school’s president, Minouche Shafik, called the unauthorized event “an abhorrent breach of our values.”

Protesters hold anti-Israel, anti-Jewish banners outside of Columbia University's campus after the academic institution suspended its Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, Nov. 15, 2023. Credit: Here Now/Shutterstock.
Protesters hold anti-Israel, anti-Jewish banners outside of Columbia University's campus after the academic institution suspended its Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, Nov. 15, 2023. Credit: Here Now/Shutterstock.

Columbia University, which has seen some of the highest levels of antisemitic disruptions on campus since Oct. 7 and the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, announced punishment last week for students who have breached school policy.

Four students have been suspended with a 24-hour notice to vacate student housing after organizing an unauthorized event that featured an advocate of violence.

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik released a statement on April 5 regarding a March 24 gathering that she said administrators “had already barred, twice, from occurring” and that “featured speakers who are known to support terrorism and promote violence.”

The “Resistance 101” session included Khaled Barakat, a member of the designated terror group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. PFLP was added to the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations on Oct. 8, 1997.

Shafik called the event “an abhorrent breach of our values.”

The students’ alleged violations of university policy resulted in Columbia hiring outside investigators “to uncover all the facts.” Shafik said with their help, “we identified organizers and participants, and required them to cooperate with the investigation or face immediate discipline.”

Shafik added that “a number of students have been suspended as the investigation continues.” Six students were originally suspended before punishments were rescinded for two of them for undisclosed reasons.

Assuring students that she “did not become a university president to punish students,” Shafik said “actions like this on our campus must have consequences. That I would ever have to declare the following is in itself surprising, but I want to make clear that it is absolutely unacceptable for any member of this community to promote the use of terror or violence.”

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