Statement From David Greenwald, Claire Shipman, Minouche Shafik, and Angela Olinto

Dear fellow members of the Columbia Community,

Throughout this very challenging year, we have adhered to a simple goal: to continue our academic mission while keeping campus safe and enforcing our rules fairly. That is the bedrock of every decision we make, and we are writing at this time to reiterate that thinking.

We called on NYPD to clear an encampment once, but we all share the view, based on discussions within our community and with outside experts, that to bring back the NYPD at this time would be counterproductive, further inflaming what is happening on campus, and drawing thousands to our doorstep who would threaten our community.  

Having said that, we also need to continue to enforce our own rules and ensure that those who violate the norms of our community face consequences.

The last week has been a period of deep tension and division on our campus, with significant disruption to our community. Many of you are attempting to finish the term, prepare for exams, and work on your research, and the uncertainty and chaotic atmosphere of demonstrations inside our campus and just outside the perimeter has made that challenging to say the least.

We know that many of you feel threatened by the atmosphere and the language being used and have had to leave campus. That is unacceptable. Many of you also are concerned about being able to speak out for a cause you feel passionately about. That also is unacceptable. Fundamental to the research and teaching mission of our university is academic freedom and an environment free from discrimination and harassment for every member of our community.

We want to be absolutely clear. The antisemitism being expressed by some individuals is intolerable and the safety situation has become concerning, particularly with the involvement of individuals not associated with Columbia.

Chants, signs, taunts, and social media posts from our own students that mock and threaten to “kill” Jewish people are totally unacceptable, and Columbia students who are involved in such incidents will be held accountable. We can report that one individual whose vile videos have surfaced in recent days is now banned from campus.

We all agree that this situation must  be resolved so that everyone can complete the semester, students can go home, and we can provide graduating students and their loved ones the celebratory commencement they deserve.

We support the conversations that are ongoing with student leaders of the encampment, under the guidance of academic leaders. Our goal is a safe resolution of this crisis.  We hope to see concrete signs of progress tonight that will lead to a significant improvement in the atmosphere on our Morningside campus.

Further updates will be shared tomorrow.


David GreenwaldCo-Chair, Board of Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York

Claire ShipmanCo-Chair, Board of Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York

Minouche ShafikPresident, Columbia University in the City of New York

Angela OlintoProvost, Columbia University in the City of New York

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