4 Takeaways From the Hearing on Antisemitism at Columbia University


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Four Columbia University officials, including the university’s president and the leaders of its board, went before Congress on Wednesday to try to extinguish criticism that the campus in New York has become a hub of antisemitic behavior and thought.

Over more than three hours, the Columbia leaders appeared to avoid the kind of caustic, viral exchange that laid the groundwork for the recent departures of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, whose own appearances before the same House committee ultimately turned into public relations disasters.

Here are the takeaways from the hearing on Capitol Hill.

With three words, Columbia leaders neutralized the question that tripped up officials from other campuses.

In December, questions about whether calling for the genocide of Jewish people violated university disciplinary policies led the presidents of Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania to offer caveat-laden, careful answers that ignited fierce criticism.

The topic surfaced early in Wednesday’s hearing about Columbia, and the Columbia witnesses did not hesitate when they answered.

“Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Columbia’s code of conduct?” asked Representative Suzanne Bonamici, Democrat of Oregon.

“Yes, it does,” replied David Greenwald, the co-chair of Columbia’s board of trustees.

“Yes, it does,” Claire Shipman, the board’s other co-chair, said next.

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