Columbia president faces calls to resign from both parties over anti-Israel protests

 April 23, 2024

Dozens of anti-Israel demonstrators were arrested at Columbia University last week, putting the elite college in the spotlight of a culture war that has swept the Ivy League.

Columbia's embattled president Minouche Shafik called for a "reset" to alleviate campus tensions as members of Congress pressure her to resign.

Columbia president under fire

Republican senator Tim Scott (Sc.) called on Shafik to resign "immediately" for "allowing students to turn their campus into a breeding ground for hatred."

Democratic senator John Fetterman (Pa.), an outspoken supporter of Israel, compared the scenes at Columbia to the Charlottesville rally in 2017.

Over 100 anti-Israel protesters were arrested on Columbia's New York City campus last week after Shafik called the NYPD to clear out an encampment.

The protest encampment has returned, and Shafik has been accused of appeasing extremists by cancelling in-person classes until the end of the semester on April 29.

"The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days. These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas. We need a reset," she said in a statement.

Congress descends on campus

Members of Congress from both parties descended on Columbia's Upper Manhattan campus on Monday to criticize the university's leadership.

Democrat Dan Goldman (NY), who is Jewish, stopped short of calling for heads to roll even as he criticized the displays on campus.

"I think it is very easy and very politically expedient to simply call for the resignation of anyone who does not do exactly right in every situation," Goldman said.

Every New York House Republican has called for Shafik to step down, including No.3 House Republican Elise Stefanik (NY), who urged Shafik to "immediately resign."

Stefanik's sharp questioning of former Harvard president Claudine Gay at a December congressional hearing set off a chain of events that led to Gay resigning, although she held onto a lucrative job at the school.

As the president of Columbia desperately calls for a "reset," it's looking possible that this will all end with a new president in charge. Only time will tell.

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