Columbia faculty group passes ‘no confidence’ vote against university president over handling of protests

Columbia faculty group passes ‘no confidence’ vote against university president over handling of protests

A Columbia University faculty group passed a “no confidence” resolution against embattled President Nemat Shafik on Thursday as internal revolt continues from anti-Israel figures on the elite college campus.

“The President’s choices to ignore our statutes and our norms of academic freedom and shared governance, to have our students arrested, and to impose a lockdown of our campus with continuing police presence, have gravely undermined our confidence in her,” the resolution stated.

Of the 709 Arts and Science faculty who voted, 65% (458 faculty members) supported the motion, 29% opposed (206), and 6% abstained (45). The vote has no actual sway over Shafik’s status, but it was yet another rebuke of her leadership at a school that’s been rocked by antisemitic unrest and illegal encampments and was forced to cancel its main commencement ceremony.

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A Columbia official noted to Fox News Digital that with 4,600 faculty on campus, roughly 80% were not eligible for the vote.

The resolution, introduced by the Columbia members of the American Association of University Professors, accused Shafik of “violation of the fundamental requirements of academic freedom and shared governance” and an “unprecedented assault on students’ rights.”

Shafik has kept a low profile as she takes fire from anti-Israel students and faculty for the school’s handling of agitators who invaded the Hamilton Hall building on campus last month. 

A mob barricaded the doors and windows, broke glass and committed other acts of vandalism, confronted maintenance workers and waved a Palestinian flag from the roof, before Shafik had the New York Police Department clear them out in scenes that played out on national television on April 30.

The resolution fumed that Shafik ignored the unanimous views of faculty and students on the Senate Executive Committee by bringing the police onto campus. Ultimately, more than 100 people were arrested, with several reports saying about half the occupiers were not students.

“Her actions have endangered these students’ welfare, and her draconian and disproportionate punishments have endangered their futures,” the resolution stated. “These offenses culminated in a police action that has harmed our community and our reputation. For days afterwards, faculty, staff, and students have been locked out of our labs, offices, and libraries. Equally damaging are plans to expel protesters, announced before the disciplinary process has run its course.”

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Before that, pro-Israel voices viewed Shafik as too soft in allowing anti-Israel encampments and antisemitic rhetoric to go unchecked.

The faculty resolution also accused Shafik of violating academic freedom principles with her testimony last month before the House Education and Workforce Committee that criticized pro-Hamas and pro-Palestinian rhetoric by faculty members.

Upon the vote, Arts & Sciences dean Amy Hungerford wrote a letter to faculty expressing fear that higher education was “under increasing attack” and hoped the teachers and university leaders could join together for the school’s survival.

Shafik, who stepped into her role last July, wrote to colleagues on May 9 that the past few weeks had been devastating, and that she wanted to move forward.

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“It took Columbia a long time to recover after 1968, and I know none of us wants that to happen again. We have an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to our mission to educate future generations, advance human knowledge, and serve our local and global communities,” she wrote in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital.

In response to the no-confidence vote, a Columbia University spokesperson said Shafik is continuing to work to heal the school.

“President Shafik continues to consult regularly with members of the community, including faculty, administration, and trustees, as well as with state, city, and community leaders. She appreciates the efforts of those working alongside her on the long road ahead to heal our community,” spokesperson Ben Chang told Fox News Digital.

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.

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