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As part of a restructuring, three top officials at Columbia University were permanently removed from their posts after a controversial text message exchange during a panel discussion on Jewish life came to light.

The incident occurred in May during a weekend alumni gathering. The administrators involved – Susan Chang-Kim, former vice dean, Cristen Kromm, dean of student life, and Matthew Patashnick, assistant dean of student and family support – exchanged text messages that were later made public. Those messages were criticized as unprofessional and anti-Semitic.

The House Committee on Education and Workforce, chaired by Virginia Foxx, published full transcription of the text exchange earlier this month. Texts in that chain included remarks describing Jewish issues as “privileged” and accusations that officials were using concerns about anti-Semitism as a fundraising tactic.
In response, President Minouche Shafik and Provost Angela Olinto raised the issueand condemned the behavior. Shafik stated, “Whether intended or not, these sentiments are unacceptable and deeply disturbing. They convey a lack of seriousness about the concerns and experiences of members of our Jewish community that is at odds with the values ​​of our university and the standards we must uphold in our community.”
The university has responded decisively, permanently firing the administrators involved. In addition, it has introduced new training on anti-Semitism and anti-discrimination for faculty, staff and students, to begin in the fall. A fourth dean, Josef Sorett, dean of Columbia College, was involved in the text exchange. In a letter posted on the university’s website, he apologized for his role. website.

Despite his commitment, Sorett appears set to stay in his post. He has promised to lead efforts to restore trust and combat discrimination within the university community.