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Columbia removes three deans from power for ‘very troubling’ antisemitic text messages | CNN Business



Columbia removes three deans from power for ‘very troubling’ antisemitic text messages | CNN Business


Columbia University announced Monday it has permanently removed three deans from their posts after finding they engaged in “very troubling” text messages that touched on antisemitic tropes.

In a letter, Columbia President Minouche Shafik committed to holding those officials responsible for the “disturbing” incident, which occurred during a May 31 panel discussion about Jewish life at an alumni event.

“The incident revealed behavior and sentiments that were not only unprofessional, but also, disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes,” Shafik said in the Monday statement.
“Whether intended as such or not, these sentiments are unacceptable and deeply upsetting, conveying a lack of seriousness about the concerns and the experiences of members of our Jewish community that is antithetical to our University’s values and the standards we must uphold in our community.”

Columbia leaders have been under fire for months to show they are taking action to combat antisemitism on campus and protect Jewish students and staff.

Angela Olinto, Columbia’s provost, said she shares Shafik’s “dismay” and announced the three staff members involved “have been permanently removed from their positions” and will “remain on leave at this time.”

“Their conduct was wrong and contrary to the mission and values of our institution,” Olinto said. “It revealed, at best, an ignorance of the history of antisemitism.”

A Columbia spokesperson told CNN that all three officials are still employed by the university.

CNN reached out to the three officials for comment.

However, Columbia signaled that a fourth official involved in the text messages, Josef Sorett, the dean of Columbia College, is staying in power after apologizing and taking responsibility.

On Monday Sorett sent a message to Columbia College students apologizing for his actions.

“I am deeply sorry that this happened in a community that I lead and , (sic) that I was part of any of the exchanges, and I pledge to spearhead the change we need to ensure this never happens again,” the message, which was also posted online, read.

Last week, Rep. Virginia Foxx, the Republican chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, demanded Columbia hold the three officials accountable and revealed images of the group text exchange.

“Jewish students deserve better than to have harassment and threats against them dismissed as ‘privilege,’ and Jewish faculty members deserve better than to be mocked by their colleagues,” Foxx said in the statement last week.

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