Columbia deans on administrative leave pending investigation of texts sent during antisemitism panel

Academia’s antisemitism problem landed multiple Columbia University deans facing consequences for their less-than-private remarks during a panel discussing the issue.

Escalating from basic protests to encampments and the outright overtaking of a campus building, the astroturf Hamas sympathies displayed at New York City’s Ivy League member aided in kindling similar demonstrations across the nation.

Occurring months after congressional hearings on campus antisemitism had landed the heads of Harvard University, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania in hot water, four deans at Columbia University allegedly went beyond merely failing to condemn the behavior.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, three of the deans who participated in a group chat during a May 31 antisemitism panel — Susan Chang-Kim, Cristen Kromm and Matthew Patashnick — had been placed on administrative leave after the outlet had exposed messages that included vomit emojis and dismissive comments.

“The Dean of Columbia College informed his team today that three administrators have been placed on leave pending a university investigation of the incident that occurred at the College alumni reunion several weeks ago,” a spokesperson for the university said in a statement to the media.

Columbia College dean Josef Sorett, the lone participant not placed on leave according to the Free Beacon, had responded “Yup,” to one message from Chang-Kim that read, “This is difficult to listen to but I’m trying to keep an open mind to learn about this point of view.”

Another message shared on social media by Free Beacon reporter Aaron Sibarium showed Sorett replying “LMAO” to Chang-Kim snarking “He is our hero” when Columbia Hillel director Brian Cohen was talking.

Patashnick had reportedly accused Cohen of taking “full advantage of this moment” for the “fundraising potential.”

An attempt by a Free Beacon journalist to question Sorett over his participation in the group messages found the reporter confronted by campus police and the NYPD after the dean had called in to complain and “raised a whole big issue,” one officer had told the outlet.

As it happened, the Free Beacon highlighted how the dean had signed on to a 2020 letter calling to “defund the NYPD by $1 billion” that stated in part, “We support the movement’s call for defunding the police, and a fundamental change in the investments in our communities.”

“The demand to defund the police is a declaration of our democratic right as community members to wrest the power to commit violence away from the police,” added the letter.

In response to the matter of the messages, Sorett had “reiterated his commitment to learning from this situation and other incidents over the last year to build a community of respect and healthy dialogue.”

Likewise, a Columbia spokesperson had told Fox News Digital, “We are committed to combatting antisemitism and taking sustained, concrete action to ensure Columbia is a campus where Jewish students and everyone in our community feels safe, valued, and able to thrive.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx (R), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, had requested the messages be provided to the committee by June 26 and stated, “I was appalled, but sadly not surprised, to learn Columbia administrators exchanged disparaging text messages during a panel that discussed antisemitism at the University.”

Kevin Haggerty

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