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Columbia University targeted by expanding House antisemitism investigation

<i>Jeenah Moon/Reuters</i><br/>Rep. Virginia Foxx informed Columbia university her panel is investigating the university’s “failure to protect Jewish students.”
Jeenah Moon/Reuters
Rep. Virginia Foxx informed Columbia university her panel is investigating the university’s “failure to protect Jewish students.”

By Matt Egan, CNN

New York (CNN) — A congressional committee probing campus antisemitism is expanding its investigation to include Columbia University and demanding the Ivy League school turn over a trove of documents to lawmakers.

In a 16-page letter delivered to Columbia leaders Monday afternoon, Rep. Virginia Foxx, the Republican chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, informed the university her panel is investigating Columbia’s “failure to protect Jewish students.”

“We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of Columbia’s response to antisemitism on its campus,” Foxx wrote in the letter, citing an “environment of pervasive antisemitism” that goes back more than two decades.

Foxx is requesting that Columbia officials produce a mountain of documents to aid the investigation by February 26.

The wide-ranging request for documents includes reports on antisemitic incidents since early 2021; the findings of disciplinary action against faculty and students; documents on action taken against student groups related to conduct involving Jews; records of requests to protest at the university; all communications since early 2021 referring to antisemitism involving university officials; and information on foreign donations, including funding from Qatari sources.

Foxx cited a “pattern of deeply troubling” incidents at Columbia in recent months, including “assaults, harassment and vandalism.”

Columbia is the fourth university targeted by the House investigation on campus antisemitism, joining Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We are committed to combating antisemitism and all forms of hatred,” said a Columbia spokesperson on Monday. “We have received the letter from Chairwoman Foxx and will cooperate fully with any investigation.”

Foxx previously hinted that the investigation could expand to Columbia, telling CNN last month that the committee was “looking at other schools” and lawmakers are “quite well aware” of Columbia. Foxx also suggested the committee could expand its investigation to include Cornell University.

The congressional scrutiny for Columbia is in addition to a probe from federal regulators.

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

Columbia President Minouche Shafik was invited to testify before Congress in December during what turned out to be a disastrous hearing for the leaders of Harvard, UPenn and MIT. Shafik declined the invitation due to a scheduling conflict, according to the Columbia Spectator.

Tensions have been running high on Columbia’s campus since the October 7 terror attack by Hamas on Israel.

Last fall, a Columbia student hanging posters on campus in support of Israel was assaulted. Days later, a mobile billboard truck 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.

Columbia launched a task force on antisemitism on November 1 in response to a “series of antisemitic incidents on campus.” Columbia leaders said the task force would be designed to fight “this ancient, but terribly resilient, form of hatred.”

Last week, Foxx gave a final warning to Harvard to turn over high-priority documents lawmakers are seeking by 5 pm on February 14 or face a subpoena.

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