⚠️ ADS ⚠️


Columbia University faculty pass vote of no confidence in President Shafik after pro-Palestinian protests

Columbia University faculty pass vote of no confidence in President Shafik after pro-Palestinian protests

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik visits Hamilton Hall on the campus of Columbia University on May 1, 2024 in New York City. (Indy Scholtens/Getty Images)

Columbia University's Arts and Sciences faculty recently made a significant decision regarding their confidence in President Minouche Shafik. Following contentious congressional testimony and her management of pro-Palestinian demonstrations, the faculty expressed their discontent with a vote of no confidence, marking a stark division within the campus community. The results, announced on Thursday, revealed a substantial lack of support for Shafik.

Moreover, a considerable number of faculty members have committed to a strike, vowing to limit their activities to those directly benefiting students as long as police remain on campus. Shafik's decision to extend the NYPD's presence until after graduation ceremonies has fueled this sentiment among the faculty.

Approximately 900 professors, representing around 20% of Columbia's faculty, were eligible to participate in the no-confidence vote. The outcome, with nearly 65% expressing no confidence in the president, underscores widespread dissatisfaction. While not legally binding, the vote serves as a potent critique of Shafik's leadership since assuming office last fall.

The resolution condemning Shafik's actions accuses her administration of disregarding academic freedoms and shared governance principles, leading to arrests of students and the imposition of a campus lockdown. This vote of no confidence is seen as a crucial initial step in repairing the fractured community and reinstating the university's foundational principles.

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on “Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University’s Response to Antisemitism” on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Nearly 80% of arts and sciences faculty took part in the vote, a significant turnout considering Columbia University's extensive roster of over 4,600 full-time faculty members last academic year. It's worth noting that not all faculty members, such as those from the law or journalism schools, were eligible to vote.

In response to the vote, Columbia spokesman Ben Chang emphasized President Shafik's ongoing engagement with various members of the community and leaders at different levels. Chang highlighted Shafik's commitment to collaboration as the university works towards healing its community.

The vote followed the administration's decision on April 30 to involve the NYPD in resolving the occupation of Hamilton Hall and dismantling the Gaza solidarity encampment, resulting in over 100 arrests in and around the campus. This marked the second instance in recent weeks where Shafik sought police intervention, the first being on April 18 to disband a tent demonstration preceding her congressional appearance, which catalyzed nationwide protests against Israel's actions in Gaza.

In an internal communication to faculty preceding the vote, Shafik acknowledged the challenges of the semester's conclusion, admitting a lack of empathy and dialogue in recent months and assuming full responsibility for rectifying this situation.

Despite indications of dwindling support from faculty, Columbia's Board of Trustees reiterated its backing of Shafik in a letter published in The Washington Post. The board emphasized its confidence in Shafik's leadership style centered on collaborative decision-making.

Members of the NYPD surround and breach Hamilton Hall where demonstrators barricaded themselves inside on the Columbia University campus on April 30, 2024 in New York City. Alex Kent/Getty Images)

Claire Shipman and David Greenwald, co-chairs, expressed their perspective on leadership during crises, acknowledging it as a challenging responsibility which President Shafik has handled with discernment and moral clarity. They emphasized her efforts to navigate the institution's best interests amidst adversity, recognizing that criticism often amplifies during such times.

They affirmed the board's support for Shafik's leadership, asserting their belief in her suitability as Columbia's leader. Shipman and Greenwald, who testified alongside Shafik before Congress on April 17, underscored their confidence in her alongside David Schizer, co-chairman of Columbia's antisemitism taskforce.

The no-confidence resolution originated from the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), citing concerns over Shafik's congressional statements and her handling of faculty matters related to Israel. Reinhold Martin, incoming AAUP chapter president and Columbia architecture professor, labeled these concerns as politically motivated and criticized the administration's response.

This motion marks the second campus-wide expression of no confidence, following a similar resolution passed by Barnard faculty against their president, Laura Rosenbury, inaugurated the same year as Shafik. It's a significant development, signaling unprecedented faculty discontent and the first-ever vote of no confidence against a Columbia president.

No comments:

Post a Comment