GOP congresswoman demands Columbia University 'restore order and safety' amid anti-Israel protests

Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sent a letter to Columbia University leaders demanding they take action against the anti-Israel protests on campus that have made Jewish students feel unsafe.

Foxx’s letter on Sunday was addressed to Columbia President Minouche Shafik and Columbia Trustees Co-Chairs David Greenwald and Claire Shipman.

“I am gravely concerned by the ongoing chaos at Columbia University caused by the radical, unlawful Gaza Solidarity Encampment, which has now entered its fifth day,” Foxx, R-N.C., wrote. “The encampment and related activities have created a severe and pervasive hostile environment for Jewish students at Columbia. A Jewish chaplain at the University has recommended Jewish students depart campus due to the University’s inability to guarantee their safety. Multiple Jewish students have already sought shelter off-campus.”

“Columbia’s continued failure to restore order and safety promptly to campus constitutes a major breach of the University’s Title VI obligations, upon which federal financial assistance is contingent, and which must immediately be rectified,” she continued. “If you do not rectify this danger, then the Committee will not hesitate in holding you accountable.”


Foxx makes remarks on Capitol Hill about the rise in antisemitism

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., called on Columbia University leaders to take action against the growing anti-Israel protests on campus. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Anti-Israel agitators occupied Columbia’s south lawn in New York City for hours on Wednesday as Shafik testified before Congress about antisemitism on the university’s campus.

An encampment with tents was set up on the main lawn of campus and the protests continued into the night for several days.

Protests at the university have called for an intifada and the death of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One Jewish Columbia University student was told to “kill yourself” and was repeatedly kicked in the stomach.

Foxx wrote: “The encampment and related activities have resulted in widespread antisemitic harassment and intimidation, assaults, frequent celebration of terrorism, and major disruptions of Columbia’s learning environment. … The Committee is aware of multiple Jewish students seeking shelter off-campus due to their well-founded fears regarding their physical safety and continuing to be subjected to what is clearly a hostile environment.”

On Thursday, the New York City Police Department arrested 108 people who refused to leave the encampment, each of whom was issued a summons for trespassing. The university also began handing out suspension notices to the students who were arrested.

“This situation is unacceptable, and it is imperative that Columbia’s leaders restore order and safety without further delay, in line with their commitments before the Committee at its April 17 hearing,” Foxx said, referring to comments made by Shafik, Greenwald and Shipman stressing the importance of student safety.


Pro-Palestine protesters demonstrate along NYPD police lines outside of Columbia University’s campus

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather along NYPD lines outside of Columbia University’s campus in New York City on Thursday. (Peter Gerber for Fox News Digital)

“Columbia is failing to deliver on these commitments, as Jewish students are being harassed, assaulted, threatened, and intimidated to the point where they are departing campus for safer environments,” she added.

The congresswoman said students, faculty, and staff are “responsible for this mayhem,” including members of the campus groups Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Columbia University Apartheid Divest and Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine. She said these groups have “repeatedly and flagrantly” violated multiple university rules and even federal law in some cases.

“The University must decisively hold them accountable in a manner commensurate with the severity of their offenses, including expulsion and termination of employment,” Foxx concluded.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the White House have criticized the protests at Columbia as antisemitic and dangerous.

“The First Amendment protects the right to protest, but students also have a right to learn in an environment free from harassment or violence,” Hochul said. “At Columbia or on any campus, threatening Jewish students with violence or glorifying the terror of October 7 is antisemitism.”

NYPD officers patrol as pro-Palestine protestors demonstrate outside of Columbia University’s campus

Multiple students were arrested as officers cleared an encampment on Columbia’s lawn on Thursday. (Peter Gerber for Fox News Digital)


On Monday, students are planning a walk out to demand amnesty for student and faculty protesters as well as the university’s divestment from “Israeli apartheid.”

Shafik’s office said in a statement to Fox News Digital that students have a right to protest, but they may not harass and intimidate other students.

“As President Shafik has said repeatedly, the safety of our community is our number one priority,” the statement said. “Columbia students have the right to protest, but they are not allowed to disrupt campus life or harass and intimidate fellow students and members of our community. We are acting on concerns we are hearing from our Jewish students and are providing additional support and resources to ensure that our community remains safe.”

Fox News’ Greg Wehner contributed to this report.

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