Updated May 17, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Columbia University faculty passes vote of no confidence in President Shafik

Shafik, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and pearl necklace, speaks into a microphone while seated during a congressional hearing. A man is seated next to her.

Columbia president Minouche Shafik testifies during a House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing about antisemitism on college campuses, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 17. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University passed a vote of no confidence in president Minouche Shafik on Thursday, multiple outlets reported.

Why it matters: The move reflects the discontentment felt by some on campus with Shafik's recent congressional testimony and her response to pro-Palestinian student protests.

Context: Shafik's testimony before a GOP-led congressional committee on April 17 focused on the university's response to rising reports of antisemitism.

  • After the hearing, Shafik cracked down on pro-Palestinian protesters, leading to the New York Police Department's arrest of more than 100 people. More students were arrested in subsequent days.
  • Similar demonstrations were held in solidarity at universities nationwide, leading to more arrests at NYU, Yale and several other campuses.

What's inside: The no-confidence resolution, against Shafik condemned her for violating "the fundamental requirements of academic freedom" and for "her unprecedented assault on students' rights," saying both require "unequivocal and emphatic condemnation."

  • Of the 709 faculty members who voted, 65% favored the no-confidence resolution, 29% voted against and 6% abstained, according to the Columbia Spectator.
  • The resolution was introduced by Columbia's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a professional faculty organization.

What they're saying: "We have lost confidence in the capacity of the senior administration, as personified by the president, to make the right decisions for Columbia based on the series of mistakes and miscalculations and overreaches and violations of norms of governance and of standards of administrative behavior over the past academic year," David Lurie, the president of Columbia's AAUP chapter, told the Spectator.

  • Ben Chang, a university spokesperson, said in a statement on Friday: "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," Chang said.
  • There are over 4,600 full-time faculty at Columbia and around 80% of them did not take part in the vote, a university official noted.

Between the lines: Columbia's AAUP chapter had previously proposed that the the university's senate hold a censure vote against Shafik.

  • The senate stopped short of a censure and instead passed a resolution calling for an investigation into her actions, according to the New York Times.

Zoom out: Tensions related to the Israel-Hamas war have escalated dramatically on college campuses across the country.

Go deeper: America's campuses reach boiling point

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include more details on the vote and statements from the university and president of Columbia's AAUP chapter.

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