About the Task Force on Antisemitism
The Columbia Task Force on Antisemitism was created by Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, Barnard College President Laura Ann Rosenbury, and Teachers College President Thomas R. Bailey to address the harmful impact of rising antisemitism on Columbia’s Jewish community and to ensure that protection, respect, and belonging extends to everyone. Antisemitism has been rising around the world, around the country, and in New York City, and Columbia is far from immune. We must urgently address the reality that Jewish members of our three interconnected institutions feel vulnerable to antisemitic bias and harassment and lack the sense of belonging that should be shared by all of us.
The task force is being led by Ester R. Fuchs, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science and Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at SIPA; Nicholas Lemann, Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus of Columbia Journalism School; and David M. Schizer, Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics and Dean Emeritus of Columbia Law School. The task force members are a diverse group of faculty from across the University equipped to assess where policies, practices and other tools and programs can be enhanced to improve the ability of Jewish students to learn and thrive on campus free from bias and harassment.
The task force is focused on understanding how antisemitism manifests on campus and ways to improve the climate for Jewish students, faculty, and staff. Antisemitism most directly threatens the Jewish community. But it is also an affront to the core values of our community. And fighting it should not be the responsibility of Jews alone nor can progress be achieved by the administration alone. Every member of the Columbia community has a role to play in helping Jews and all communities feel safe and included. We expect that many task force findings and recommendations will also bolster efforts to prevent and mitigate all forms of hate, bigotry, and bias—and to improve the health of our campus as a welcoming place to learn and thrive.
The task force will work on three broad initiatives. First, it will engage in a serious and honest assessment of the sources and extent of the discomfort that many Jewish members of the Columbia community feel. This will take the form of listening sessions with students, faculty, staff, and others most directly affected. In this initiative, the task force will also seek insights and perspectives from a broad array of professionals who touch the lives of students, from faculty to teaching assistants to Residential Life professionals. The task force will document these various experiences and perspectives, so everyone in the Columbia community can gain a deeper understanding of the relevant challenges and the dynamics contributing to them.
Second, the Task Force on Antisemitism will review University policies, rules, and practices that impact the campus climate to make sure they protect the University’s core commitment to free speech, as well as to a safe and inclusive environment for all Columbians, including Columbia’s Jewish community. This work will be done in consultation with the University Senate and other governing bodies.
Third, the task force will also propose various other ways to sensitize the entire community to antisemitism, to counter it more effectively, and to support Jews at Columbia. It will also consider ways that academic and intellectual life can be enhanced to promote Jewish studies and ensure that it fully embodies the principles of free expression and viewpoint diversity.
The task force will make recommendations in stages, beginning in early 2024 in effort to have the most immediate possible impact. Longer term, it will recommend more ambitious changes that will help institutionalize and sustain progress toward an improved campus climate.
Areas of Focus
Review University policies, rules and practices that impact campus climate to make sure they are consistent, well- aligned and that they are being applied fairly and consistently in ways that protect students and honor Columbia’s bedrock commitment to academic freedom and free expression.
Building awareness, understanding, and solidarity. The task force will propose approaches to better sensitize the entire community about antisemitism, how it functions and ways to counter it and to support Jews at Columbia. Extracurricular offerings and many facets of campus life can help strengthen social support networks by fostering cross community conversations, solidarity and understanding.
Academic and intellectual life can be enhanced to promote Jewish studies as well as to ensure that it fully embodies the principles of free expression and viewpoint diversity.