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Columbia University leaders to get grilled by Congress at antisemitism hearing

By Matt Egan, CNN

New York (CNN) — The president and board chairs of Columbia University have agreed to testify next month at a Congressional hearing on campus antisemitism.

The House Education and Workforce Committee announced Monday it will hold a hearing on April 17 featuring Columbia President Minouche Shafik and the two co-chairs of the board of trustees: Claire Shipman and David Greenwald.

Shafik had been invited to testify at the disastrous December hearing where the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania struggled to answer questions about whether calls for the genocide of Jews would violate school policies. The Columbia president was unable to attend in December due to long-scheduled travel, according to university spokesperson Samantha Slater.

Within weeks, the leaders of both Harvard and Penn had quit amid firestorms of controversy.

Last month, the House Education Committee widened its campus antisemitism investigation to include Columbia and demanded the Ivy League school turn over a wide range of documents to aid that probe.

“Some of the worst cases of antisemitic assaults, harassment, and vandalism on campus have occurred at Columbia University,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, the Republican chairwoman of the committee, in a statement. “Due to the severe and pervasive nature of these cases, and the Columbia administration’s failure to enforce its own policies to protect Jewish students, the Committee must hear from Columbia’s leadership in person to learn how the school is addressing antisemitism on its campus.”

At a roundtable event held by the committee earlier this month, Eden Yadegar, a junior at Columbia University, described how Jewish students were attacked by people wielding sticks outside of the university library.

“We have been attacked by sticks outside our library. We have been attacked by angry mobs and we have been threatened to ‘Keep f—ing running,’” said Yadegar, who is the president of Students Supporting Israel at Columbia University

Columbia has said that antisemitism is “antithetical” to the university’s values.

“Columbia is committed to combating antisemitism and we welcome the opportunity to discuss our work to protect and support Jewish students and keep our community safe,” Slater, the Columbia spokesperson, told CNN in a statement on Monday.

In November, the Department of Education launched an investigation into Columbia and other universities after getting complaints about alleged incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Last fall, a Columbia student who was hanging posters on campus in support of Israel was assaulted. Days later, a mobile “doxxing” billboard drove outside the entrance of Columbia displaying the names and faces of students who a conservative nonprofit said were linked to a statement blaming Israel for the Hamas terror attack.

Shai Davidai, an assistant professor at the Columbia Business School, called Shafik a “coward” in a fiery speech last year criticizing the university president for failing to quiet “pro-terror” voices at the school.

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