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Columbia Administrators’ Texts Reveal New Depths of Apathy and Disdain Towards Jewish Students

WASHINGTON –Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) today is again demanding accountability for Columbia University administrators after releasing text messages received as part of the Committee’s ongoing antisemitism investigation that show the disparaging and dismissive attitudes Columbia’s administrators hold towards Jewish students.

The text messages, which include numerous offensive messages that have not previously been reported, show senior Columbia College administrators mocking and disparaging the university’s Jewish community, and trafficking in antisemitic tropes regarding Jews and money. The texts accused Jewish students of coming from a “place of privilege,” dismissed their concerns, disparaged officials responsible for Jewish student life, and insinuated that efforts to address the explosion of antisemitism on Columbia’s campus were merely a fundraising ploy.

The texts came from threads involving Susan Chang-Kim, the vice dean and chief administrative officer of Columbia College; Cristen Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life; Matthew Patashnick, the associate dean for student and family support; and Josef Sorett, the dean of Columbia College.

“Jewish students deserve better than to have harassment and threats against them dismissed as ‘privilege,’ and Jewish faculty members deserve better than to be mocked by their colleagues,” said Chairwoman Foxx. “These text messages once again confirm the need for serious accountability across Columbia’s campus.”

Following reports that four Columbia deans had exchanged disparaging text messages as members of the university’s Jewish community discussed antisemitism in a panel on Jewish life on campus, Chairwoman Foxx demanded that the texts be turned over to the Committee as part of its ongoing investigation into antisemitism at colleges and universities. The subsequent production offered a small but clear window into the administrators’ determination to belittle the antisemitism on campus.

During the recent alumni weekend panel, the four deans discussed the Jewish students’ “place of privilege” and said it’s “hard to hear the woe is me, we need to huddle at the Kraft center” as panelists highlighted the importance of the refuge offered to Jewish students at the Kraft Center for Jewish Life.

Several exchanges engaged in antisemitic stereotypes regarding Jews and money. One message stated, “Amazing what $$$$ can do'' as panelists referenced an October 2023 op-ed on antisemitism by a campus rabbi, Yonah Hain. Another charged that Brian Cohen, the Lavine Family Executive Director of Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Columbia’s center for Jewish life, “knows exactly what he’s doing and how to take full advantage of this moment. Huge fundraising potential.” An administrator also dismissed the explosion of antisemitic conduct at Columbia, saying Cohen “is such a problem !!!” for “[p]ainting our students as dangerous.”

The text messages can be viewed here.


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