Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a senior member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, had multiple rounds of questions for President of Columbia University Dr. Nemat Shafik and Board of Trustees Co-Chairs Claire Shipman and David Greenwald about Columbia’s failure to adequately respond to the spread of antisemitism on their campus following the terrorist attacks on Israel committed by Hamas terrorists on October 7th.



Watch her full line of questioning here.

Read a full transcript of her line of questioning below:

Congresswoman Stefanik: I want to follow up on my colleague Rep. Walberg’s question regarding Professor Joseph Massad. So let me be clear, President, that he was spoken to. Who spoke with him?

President Shafik: He was spoken to by his Head of Department and his Dean. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: And what was he told?

President Shafik: I was not in those conversations. I think he was told that that language was unacceptable.

Congresswoman Stefanik: But you’re not aware of what he was told? What was he told?

President Shafik: That that language was unacceptable.

Congresswoman Stefanik: And were there any other enforcement actions taken? Any other disciplinary actions taken? 

President Shafik: In his case, he has not repeated anything like that ever since. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: Does he need to repeat stating that the massacre of Israeli civilians was ‘awesome’? Does he need to repeat his participation in an unauthorized, pro-Hamas demonstration on April 4th? You know, Professor David Schizer talked about the lack of enforcement. Do you agree that this is an issue with a lack of enforcement when the policy of Columbia specifically stated on April 5th said, ‘I want to make clear that it is absolutely unacceptable for any member of this community to promote the use of terror or violence,’ and yet you have no action? No disciplinary action. Do you agree with how the university has handled this? 

President Shafik: Yeah, we have 4,700 faculty at Columbia, most of whom spend all of their time dedicated to teaching their students

Congresswoman Stefanik: But I'm talking about the faculty members who are supporting terror and it's not just that case. Let me bring your attention to Mohamed Abdou who was hired after the October 7th terrorist attack against Israel. He, on October 11th, posted: ‘Yes, I'm with Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.’ He also decried false reports accusing Arabs and Muslims of decapitating the heads of children and being rapists. We know that there were decapitations of babies, of innocent Israeli citizens, of seniors, of women, there were rapes and yet Columbia hired this individual as a professor. How did that hiring process work? Were you aware of those statements before the hiring?

President Shafik: I share with you your repugnance at those remarks. I completely understand that. On my watch, faculty who make remarks that cross the line in terms of antisemitism, there will be consequences for them.

Congresswoman Stefanik: What are the consequences in this case? 

President Shafik: I have five cases at the moment who have either been either taken out of the classroom or dismissed. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: And is he one of those? 

President Shafik: He will never work at Columbia again.

Congresswoman Stefanik: So he has been terminated?

President Shafik: He has been terminated and not just terminated, but his files will show that he will never work at Columbia again. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: So he is currently not employed by Columbia?

President Shafik: He is grading his students’ papers and will never teach at Columbia again and that will be on his permanent record.

Congresswoman Stefanik: How are you changing the hiring processes? Because on your watch, he was hired after he made these statements publicly? How are you ensuring this does not happen with your hiring process going forward?

President Shafik: So when we hire people, obviously they have to meet the academic qualifications, but we do an employment check and a criminal record check. We also ask everyone to do an attestation that they have never been accused of discrimination or part of an investigation around harassment or discrimination. And that attestation has to be signed by all new employees. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: And it didn’t work in this case. 

President Shafik: I think in this case, while he may not have been subject to an investigation on discrimination or found guilty, it has to be found guilty. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: But don’t you think it’s a problem when the hiring process of Columbia is hiring someone who makes those statements, and is hiring them after making those statements?

President Shafik: I agree with you that I think we need to look at how to toughen up those requirements. We do have a requirement, but I agree with you. I think we need to look at how we can make it more effective. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: Let me ask about Professor Katherine Frank from the Columbia Law School who said that ‘all Israeli students who have served in the IDF are dangerous and shouldn’t be on campus.’ What disciplinary action has been taken against that professor?’

President Shafik: I agree with you that those comments are completely unacceptable and discriminatory.

Congresswoman Stefanik: But I'm asking you what disciplinary action has been taken.

President Shafik: She has been spoken to by very senior person in the administration and she has said that that was not what she intended to say.

Congresswoman Stefanik: And has she publicly apologized? 

President Shafik: I have suggested that. I think she will be finding a way to clarify her position.

Congresswoman Stefanik: You see the concern here though, with the lack of enforcement. You see the concern that speaking to these professors is not enough and it's sending a message across the university that this is tolerated. These antisemitic statements from a position of authority in professors in the classroom is tolerated. My time has expired, but I will have multiple rounds with questions.

Congresswoman Stefanik: Just to follow up, you should know this President Shafik, but Massad is still in fact listed on the Columbia website as Chair of the Academic Review Committee. Are you aware of that? 

President Shafik: I would need to check that. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: The website’s right here. So he hasn't been removed as Chair? Do you have my commitment that he'll be removed as Chair today? 

President Shafik: I have my commitment that I will come back to you and give you the facts. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: So he hasn't been removed. So you said in front of Congress, under oath, that he was removed. 

President Shafik: No, I said I am not sure. I need to check.

Congresswoman Stefanik: Well, I'll tell you what he's still listed as chair. Let me ask the Board of Trustees. Is that acceptable that he's chair of this committee? Should he be removed today, Ms. Shipman?

Columbia University Board of Trustees Co-Chair Claire Shipman: Congresswoman, you've put your finger on one of the hardest issues we as board chairs face right now. I think you can see our systems from the videos you played, everything you're talking about, our systems of rules and enforcement…

Congresswoman Stefanik: Are broken, they're broken. My question to you, Ms. Shipman, and I'm the one asking the questions here as the United States Member of Congress, is: Do you believe that he should be removed as chair because currently he's listed as chair on Columbia University's website?

Co-Chair Shipman: I don't believe any professor at Columbia should say anything like, our professors have to be held to a higher standard than our students. And I can tell you that our board– 

Congresswoman Stefanik: But you can't say at this hearing that he should be removed as chair even though he violates university rules? 

Co-Chair Shipman: I personally don’t want him as chair and we are looking at the issue of faculty and what we expect from our faculty. 

Congresswoman Stefanik: Mr. Greenwald, do you think he should be removed as chair?

Columbia University Board of Trustees Co-Chair David Greenwald: His comments are abhorrent and I believe that one of the steps that we could take in terms of discipline is to remove him from that leadership position.

Congresswoman Stefanik: Thank you for that direct answer. And just to let you know, Mr. Abdou is not grading papers right now. He's on campus at the unsanctioned anti-Israel, antisemitic event that is being supported by pro-Hamas activists on campus. So that's what Professor Abdou is doing at this very moment.