Faculty members of Columbia University’s School of Arts and Sciences supported a motion of “no confidence” against president Minouche Shafik on Thursday as the university continues to grapple with the fallout of a tumultuous few weeks on campus brought on by anti-Israel protests.

Sixty-five percent of the 709 faculty members who cast a vote supported the motion, which was introduced by faculty who serve on the board of Columbia’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Twenty-nine percent voted against the motion while another 6 percent abstained, according to the Washington Post.

The motion centers on Shafik’s decision to call in the New York Police Department last month to clear out an encampment of anti-Israel protesters at the university without first speaking with the university senate.

“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 motion reads. “A vote of no confidence in the President is the first step towards rebuilding our community and reestablishing the University’s core values of free speech, the right to peaceful assembly, and shared governance.”

Faculty in Arts and Sciences represent just 20 percent of the 4,600 full-time faculty at Columbia, university spokesman Ben Chang said in a statement to the Post, and the vote merely sends a message — it holds no legal weight.

Arts and Sciences dean Amy Hungerford said the vote “represents the opinion of its supporters, and in doing so makes clear a level of frustration and disappointment among many.”

“The more consequential question is how we move forward focusing on the aims and goals that I believe the faculty and the university’s highest leadership share,” she said.

Chang, meanwhile, said Shafik regularly speaks with faculty, administration and trustees, and “appreciates the efforts of those working alongside her on the long road ahead to heal our community.”

NYPD officers arrested 108 anti-Israel protesters on Columbia University’s campus on April 18 after Shafik asked law enforcement to step in and break up the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” Officers in riot gear arrived on campus more than 30 hours after the protest began, and warned protesters to disperse several times before they began making arrests for trespassing.

Two protesters were charged with obstruction of governmental administration in addition to trespassing, city officials said.

Protesters then quickly reconvened the encampment and later seized the university’s Hamilton Hall, renaming it “Hinds Hall,” in commemoration of the death of Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Demonstrators vandalized the building, breaking doors and windows, and blockaded entrances before officers performed a sweep of the building and made arrests. 

New York City mayor Eric Adams said that he believed outside agitators were responsible for the escalation of campus protests.

The tensions led Columbia to switch to hybrid classes for the rest of the semester and to cancel its main commencement ceremony.

“These past two weeks have been among the most difficult in Columbia’s history,” Shafik said in three-minute-long video message earlier this month. “The turmoil and tension, division and disruption have impacted the entire community.”

Shafik said university administrators made a “sincere and good offer” to student protesters but it was “not accepted.”

“A group of protesters crossed a new line with the occupation of Hamilton Hall. It was a violent act that put our students at risk, as well as putting the protesters at risk. I walked through the building and saw the damage which was distressing.”

“We have a lot to do,” Shafik concluded. “But I am committed to working at it everyday and with each of you to rebuild community on our campus.”

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Columbia Faculty Support ‘No-Confidence’ Motion against President Minouche Shafik

The motion centers on Shafik’s decision to call in New York police last month to clear out an encampment of ... READ MORE


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