House committee launches Columbia University antisemitism probe

NEW YORK — A U.S. House of Representatives committee is investigating allegations of antisemitism at Columbia University, according to a letter sent to university officials Monday.

Its launch is the latest in a series of probes by the Republican-led Committee on Education and the Workforce into elite colleges’ ability to protect its Jewish students.

“We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of Columbia’s response to antisemitism on its campus,” Committee Chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., wrote in the letter.

Foxx pointed to a “pattern of deeply troubling incidents and developments at Columbia,” including a Jewish student who was beaten with a stick by a peer over a dispute about Israeli hostage posters, and a swastika drawn in a campus bathroom.

“We are committed to combating antisemitism and all forms of hatred,” a university spokesman said in a statement. “We have received the letter from Chairwoman Foxx and will cooperate fully with any investigation.”

The letter cited a December survey that found perceived incidents of antisemitism reported by Jewish students at Columbia were among the highest across dozens of campuses, according to the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik, whose tenure began at the start of this school year, declined to testify at a House committee hearing in December, citing a prior commitment, the student newspaper Columbia Spectator reported. Two university presidents who participated in that hearing later resigned after backlash over their testimony and other factors.

Foxx asked Columbia to submit a number of documents and information by Feb. 26. Those include all reports of antisemitic incidents since 2021, disciplinary records and internal communications.

Columbia has been roiled by campus tensions since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on mostly Israeli civilians, and the Israeli military’s counteroffensive in Gaza.

In the weeks since the spring semester resumed, pro-Palestinian students say they were targeted with a sickening spray at a campus rally. The incident is currently under investigation, with the NYPD looking into two former Columbia students as suspects. At least one Columbia student was arrested at a protest just outside the university’s gates over its response to the chilling episode.