Statement from Columbia University President Minouche Shafik

April 05, 2024

On March 24, an event took place at a campus residential facility that the University had already barred, twice, from occurring. It featured speakers who are known to support terrorism and promote violence. I want to state for the record that this event is an abhorrent breach of our values. I also want to update our community on the actions which have been underway as a result.

First, we notified law enforcement and we hired an outside investigation firm to uncover all the facts. With their help, we identified organizers and participants and required them to cooperate with the investigation or face immediate discipline. We are still in the process of interviewing students, faculty, and other members of the community and gathering facts. A number of students have been suspended as the investigation continues.   

I realize that our campus has been deeply shaken by the war between Israel and Hamas, starting Oct. 7 with the horrific Hamas terrorist attack in Israel, and now unfolding as a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I did not become a university president to punish students. At the same time, actions like this on our campus must have consequences. That I would ever have to declare the following is in itself surprising, but I want to make clear that it is absolutely unacceptable for any member of this community to promote the use of terror or violence.

I also want to remind our community that all of our rules and policies matter. Yesterday, students, faculty, and other members of our community chose to hold an unapproved event near academic buildings in violation of our rules and policies. We are in the process of identifying participants and they will face discipline under our policies. This university will only thrive if we can build a strong foundation of respect – both for each other and for our rules.

Minouche Shafik
President, Columbia University in the City of New York