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Three Columbia deans placed on leave over disparaging text exchange during antisemitism panel

Three Columbia University deans have been placed on administrative leave after sending hostile text messages, including a vomiting face emoji, during a panel discussion on anti-Semitism at a recent alumni event.

The images of the text message exchange between Joseph Soret, Susan Chan Kim, Matthew Patashnick and Kristen Crome, who are associate deans and administrators at the Ivy League university, were captured by an alumnus sitting in the crowd during a May 31 panel discussion about Jewish life on campus.

Susan Chan Kim, Columbia’s vice dean and chief administrative officer, was among several senior university officials placed on administrative leave following the reshuffle. Columbia University

During the two-hour panel, the groups traded disparaging messages as speakers discussed at length how rising anti-Semitism, fueled by Israel’s war on Hamas, has affected the school’s Jewish students and faculty.

Speakers included David Scissor, former dean of the elite Columbia Law School and co-chair of the school’s anti-Semitism task force; Brian Cohen, executive director of Columbia’s Craft Center for Jewish Life; Ian Rottenberg, Columbia’s dean for religious life; and Rebecca Massell, a student who covered anti-Israel protests on campus for the student newspaper, the Columbia Daily Spectator.

Matthew Patashnick, associate dean for student and family services at Columbia University, accused speakers on the Camus anti-Semitism panel of using the event for “potential fundraising.” Columbia University

As panelists shared their assessments of the dire situation Jewish students have faced since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel, Columbia University leaders fired off messages of derision and scorn. Washington Free Beacon report.

In one exchange, Crome, the dean of undergraduate life, cited an October 2023 article in the Spectator titled “Sounding the alarm” wrote Yona Hain, the school’s campus rabbi.

In it, he warned that the university community had “lost its moral compass” as unsettling anti-Israel demonstrations began to erupt on campuses in the fall.

Crome also sarcastically referred to an article in which a Jewish alumna tearfully described the hostility her daughter experienced as a college sophomore.

Dean of Undergraduate Life Kristen Crome referred to an op-ed piece by a campus rabbi that condemned rising anti-Semitic sentiment on campus, sending a sick, vomiting face emoji in a group chat with other university leaders. Columbia University

“And we thought Jonah sounded the alarm…” the mocking message read.

In a separate exchange, Patashnick, Columbia’s associate dean for student and family services, accused unnamed members of the committee of exploiting the situation.

“He knows exactly what he’s doing and how to make the most of this moment, which has enormous fundraising potential,” said Chan Kim, Columbia University’s associate dean and chief administrative officer.

In an email to the Columbia University Board of Trustees obtained by the outlet, Dean Solett apologized for the “harm” the message caused and insisted the hateful comments “do not represent the views of any individual or team.”

He also slammed the “unidentified third party” who took photos of the group chat, claiming that making them public constituted an “invasion of privacy.”

In his letter, Sollett “learned from this situation and other incidents over the past year and reiterated our commitment to building a community of respect and healthy dialogue,” but he had not been placed on administrative leave as of Friday night, The Beacon reported.

Columbia University’s campus has become a hotbed of anti-Israel demonstrations since the Jewish state launched retaliatory attacks against Hamas following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks. Getty Images

Following the university staff member’s placement on administrative leave, a Columbia University spokesperson told The Washington Post: “We are committed to taking sustained and concrete actions to combat anti-Semitism and ensure that Columbia is a campus where all Jewish students and members of the community can feel safe, valued and thrive.”

Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus became a hotbed of anti-Israel protests shortly after Israel began its retaliatory bombing of the Gaza Strip.

From fall to spring, hundreds of protesters set up makeshift tent cities on the campus of the school, which costs $90,000 a year, and regularly clashed with police who were called in to disperse violent crowds.

In one notable incident in late April, a mob of masked pro-Hamas rioters occupied the university’s Hamilton Hall building, smashing windows with hammers and hoisting a giant flag calling for “Intifada” from a second-story window.

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