Columbia Law dean steps down amid controversy over antisemitism response highlighted by AIM
November 30, 2023
Columbia Law School Dean Gillian Lester will resign from that position and demote herself to merely teaching at the school. This is in the wake of her less-than-adequate responses to antisemitism on campus and the events surrounding protests about the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7.
This is, of course, a good thing. Organizations and those who run them have a duty to those who make up that organization. Colleges and Schools within them have a responsibility to their students. Allowing antisemitism to run riot on campus is not performing that duty. That is a failure of leadership, and failed leaders should go.
“The law school has been battling accusations of anti-Semitism ever since Hamas’s Oct. 7 rampage through southern Israel, which Lester initially described as the “violence that erupted in Israel and Gaza.” Her statement, which did not mention Hamas or anti-Semitism, touched off weeks of damage control at the elite law school, where pro-Palestinian students recently occupied a campus building and disrupted class in violation of school policy. Columbia declined to break up the protest or say whether the students would be punished.”
This is especially true of a law school, of course – protecting us all with the shield of the law is rather the point of the legal process.
The experience of one Israeli student after she’d described her experiences at Columbia and we’d asked what the administration had done, from our own video of our visits to campus:
“Nothing, I mean, I went to public safety. I went to the Dean. I spoke to my RA, the resident advisor on the floor. Nothing was done about the students that came and harassed me. And I feel disgusted with this administration and this president of this university for not saying anything and not condemning Hamas.”
This is after she described the personal vilification she was subject to, the actions of those pro-Hamas supporters on campus. The university management, those with that duty of care, did nothing. So, clearly, it is good that they go – even if it is only one of them so far.
This part of the story is not about the Middle East or the Levant. This is about what happens in New York City. Either a college administration – of an Ivy League – protects all of its students on campus, or it doesn’t. Perhaps it’s time to have a new administration if it doesn’t.