Columbia University Removes Three Deans for ‘Very Troubling’ Antisemitic Text Messages

News & Politics

On May 31, Columbia University hosted a panel discussion during reunion weekend called “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present, and Future.” The panel was in response to numerous antisemitic acts by students and faculty during the pro-Hamas protests in the previous weeks. 

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Some of the highest-ranking university officials, however, took the opportunity during the panel discussion to send blatantly antisemitic texts back and forth. A colleague sitting behind one of the texters took photos of the offensive texts and gave them to the Washington Free Beacon.

Cristen Kromm, formerly the dean of undergraduate student life; Matthew Patashnick, formerly the associate dean for student and family support; and Susan Chang-Kim, formerly the vice dean and chief administrative officer, were all asked to step down from their positions after their texts became public. 

Another administrator, Josef Sorett, the dean of Columbia College, was also asked to step down. But since he made a groveling apology, claiming in effect, that he didn’t have an antisemitic bone in his body, he was allowed to continue in his job.

“I continue to learn from this experience and understand the impact that my texts, as well as those between my staff, have had on our community,” Sorett said in the apology, sent Monday morning. “We must and will do better, on behalf of the entire Columbia community.”

That the four administrators sent the texts is not in dispute. The mystery is why they haven’t been fired. And why did Dr. Sorett keep his job when his texts were just as disturbing as the others?

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In a letter, Columbia President Minouche Shafik said she would hold the deans responsible for their actions.

“The incident revealed behavior and sentiments that were not only unprofessional, but also, disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes,” Shafik said in the Monday statement. 

“Touched on ancient antisemitic tropes”? You decide.

Washington Free Beacon:

Two of the officials, Kromm and Patashnick, separately suggested that Jews were using their wealth—”$$$$,” as Kromm put it—to foment panic about anti-Semitism, while a third, Chang-Kim, said that Jewish students’ concerns come “from such a place of privilege.”

Other messages used vomit emojis to describe a Columbia rabbi’s op-ed and expressed disdain for the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Orly Mishan, who said that her own daughter was “hiding in plain sight” at Columbia.

“I’m going to throw up,” Chang-Kim wrote as Mishan was speaking.

Sorett himself joined in the pile-on, indicating that he found the panel “difficult to listen to” and endorsing a sarcastic message about the university’s Hillel director, Brian Cohen, after Cohen said on the panel that his “soul has been broken” by the protests on Columbia’s campus. Those protests included calls to kill Jewish students and “burn Tel Aviv to the ground.”

“LMAO,” Sorrett wrote.

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Arrogant, elitist, and antisemitic — it’s no wonder Columbia is a rat’s nest of hate.

Related: Another 80 Pro-Palestinian Protesters Have the Chargers Against Them Dropped

What happens now? President Shafik claims that the incident is being “investigated.” What’s there to “investigate”? The texts are in plain English. The texters are known. And unless Columbia has changed its rules against hate speech, the four administrators are guilty of more than “disturbing speech.” If Columbia is going to set an example for its students, the four offenders should have been summarily fired and not simply “relieved” of their duties.

I think it is very likely that after a “thorough investigation” of three or four months, the three deans will quietly resume their previous duties and all will be forgotten.

Where’s a “vomit emoji” when you need one?

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