Three Columbia Deans Canned Over 'Antisemitic' Texts About Jewish Students

Beatriz Madan | July 9, 2024
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Three Columbia deans have been removed from their positions after their private texts filled with “antisemitic tropes” about Jewish students on campus became public.

In a statement Monday, the school said it has “permanently removed” the trio from their posts over “very troubling” texts that “disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes.” The texts were from three former deans—dean of undergraduate student life Cristen Kromm, associate dean for student and family support Matthew Patashnick and vice dean and chief administrative officer Susan Chang-Kim - and centered on a panel held earlier this year to discuss anti-Semitism on campus.

One text from Chang-Kim reportedly said the panel was “difficult to listen to but I’m trying to keep an open mind to learn about this point of view,” while Kromm sent two vomit emojis in reference to an opinion piece by Columbia’s campus rabbi, and Patashnick implied one of the panelists was trying to capitalize on “huge fundraising potential.” Other texts accused Jewish students of having “privilege” and mocked them for needing a safe place to “huddle.” 

These texts were exposed after images of the group chat emerged publicly, captured by an alumnus sitting in the crowd during the May 31 panel.

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Columbia leaders have been under fire for months to prove they are taking action to combat antisemitism on campus and protect Jewish students and staff.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik wrote in a letter to the Columbia community, "This incident revealed behavior and sentiments that were not only unprofessional, but also, disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes. Whether intended as such or not, these sentiments are unacceptable and deeply upsetting, conveying a lack of seriousness about the concerns and the experiences of members of our Jewish community that is antithetical to our University's values and the standards we must uphold in our community."

Finally, a major University is doing something to prevent further antisemetic behavior.  Although a relatively small gesture compared to all that the Jewish students have had to endure, it is still a step in the right direction. 

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