Columbia Faculty Group Passes No-Confidence Resolution Against President

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University passed a resolution of no confidence in the school’s president, Nemat Shafik, on Thursday, saying she had violated the “fundamental requirements of academic freedom and shared governance,” and engaged in an “unprecedented assault on student’s rights.”

The move, while largely symbolic, underscores the anger that Dr. Shafik faces on campus as she tries to recover from her divisive handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations and her public pledge to a congressional committee last month that she would discipline several faculty members who had espoused views against Israel that some have argued are antisemitic.

The no-confidence resolution was introduced by the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors, a professional faculty organization. Of the 709 professors who voted, 65 percent were in favor of the resolution and 29 percent were against it. Six percent abstained.

The resolution particularly criticized Dr. Shafik’s decision to call the police into campus to clear a pro-Palestinian student encampment on April 18, even after the executive committee of the University Senate had unanimously told her not to do it. The resolution said that she had “falsely claimed” that the students were a “clear and present danger to the substantial functioning of the university,” arguing instead that they were peaceful.

She also violated the norms of academic freedom when she promised to fire faculty members in testimony before a congressional committee on antisemitism on April 17, the resolution said.

“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.

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