3 Columbia Deans Lose Posts Over 'Antisemitic Tropes'

All have been placed on leave amid investigation
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2024 7:57 AM CDT
3 Columbia Deans Texted 'Antisemitic Tropes'
People listen to a speaker calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza inside the campus of Columbia University, Sunday, April 28, 2024, in New York.   (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki, File)

Columbia University has another controversy on its hands related to its treatment of the campus' Jewish community. Three deans have been removed from their posts and placed on indefinite leave after the university said they sent texts to each other that "disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes," reports the Wall Street Journal. The texts were sent as the three attended a May 31 forum on campus called "Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present, and Future," per the AP.

  • The texts: The university did not provide details of the texts, but the GOP-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce released them here. Among other things, the texts suggested that Jewish students came from a place of privilege and wealth. "Hard to hear the woe is me," reads one. Another said, "huge fundraising potential," suggesting one of the forum speakers had ulterior motives.

  • 'Unacceptable:' Columbia President Nemat Shafik called the texts "unacceptable and deeply upsetting, conveying a lack of seriousness about the concerns and the experiences of members of our Jewish community," per the New York Times. She said the messages were "antithetical to our university's values and the standards."
  • The trio: The three (now former) deans involved are Susan Chang-Kim, the vice dean and chief administrative officer; Cristen Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life; and Matthew Patashnick, the associate dean for student and family support.
  • A fourth: Josef Sorett, the dean of Columbia College, also participated in the texts but has not been removed from his post. However, the Times notes that a petition already has been launched to change that.
  • Secret photos: Someone seated behind Chang-Kim at the forum took photos of the texts she was sending and receiving and passed them on to the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which ran a story and ignited the controversy.
(More Columbia University stories.)

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