New York lawmakers introduce bill that will force colleges to deal with antisemitism or lose money

A bipartisan effort is underway to address the antisemitic protests that have engulfed colleges like New York’s Columbia University.

Republican Rep. Mike Lawler and Democrat Rep. Ritchie Torres, who both represent New York, have come together to introduce legislation in the wake of antisemitism at Columbia and elsewhere that has left Jewish students and staff at campuses fearing for their safety.

The College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability (COLUMBIA) Act, which was introduced by the lawmakers on Friday, would hold accountable any colleges receiving federal funding, putting a third-party monitor in place by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Rising antisemitism on our college campuses is a major concern and we must act to ensure the safety of students,” Lawler said in a statement. “I’m proud to work with my friend and colleague Ritchie Torres on legislation that will impose a third-party antisemitism monitor on college campuses to ensure protections are in place and oversee any troubling action by college administrators. If colleges will not step up to protect their students, Congress must act.”

The monitor, which would be paid for by the college, “would release a publicly available online quarterly report, evaluating in detail the progress that a college or university has made toward combating antisemitism on campus and issuing policy recommendations to Congress, the Secretary, and state and local regulators as needed,” according to a press release.

Any college that does not comply will lose federal funding, according to the proposed legislation.

“As we have seen over the last half a year since October 7, campus antisemitism is at an all-time high, and American universities are not capable of handling it when left to their own devices. My office and I have spoken with countless Jewish students from campuses across America who feel deeply unsafe, purely as a result of their religious and ethnic identity. This is a blatant violation of Title VI and the federal government cannot allow this to continue unchecked,” Torres said in a statement.

“This past week’s crisis at Columbia is not an isolated incident — it is the straw that has broken the camel’s back — and I am prepared to do something about it,” the lawmaker added. “That’s why I am introducing the COLUMBIA Act today, and I urge all of my colleagues in the House, from both parties, to join me in this crucial action. Jewish students have told my office that they feel completely abandoned by their university administrators and they view Congress as the only avenue for accountability and safety. Let’s honor our word to them and get this done.”

Lawler reiterated that he represents “one of the largest Jewish communities in the country” and told Fox News host Sandra Smith that it is “totally unacceptable” to see “this rabid antisemitism that is taking over universities like Columbia.”

“These kids are part of the participation trophy generation that have never been told ‘no’ in their lives and it needs to start happening,” Lawler, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, added.

Frieda Powers

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