New York’s House Republicans call on Columbia president to resign amid protests

All 10 House Republicans from New York on Monday called on Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to resign amid fiery pro-Palestinian protests on campus that have led to mounting criticism of the university’s leadership from all sides.

Led by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the members said Columbia’s campus has been overrun by “anarchy” and that Shafik has failed her obligation to provide a safe learning environment for students.

Hundreds of students have occupied Columbia’s campus for days, protesting the Biden administration’s response to the Israel-Hamas war, backing a cease-fire in the conflict and urging Congress to stop sending military aid to Israel.

More than 100 protesters were arrested Friday on Shafik’s orders, but demonstrations have since only expanded and have now branched out to other college campuses across the country.

“The situation unfolding on campus right now is a direct product of your policies and misguided decisions,” the letter reads. “Based on these recent events and your testimony in front of Congress, we have no confidence in your leadership of this once esteemed institution.”

“The ongoing situation that has unfolded is a direct symptom of your continued lax enforcement of policy and clear double standards,” it continued. “While the rot is systemic, the responsibility rests squarely on your shoulders. It is time for Columbia University to turn the page on this shameful chapter. This can only be done through the restoration of order and your prompt resignation.”

Demands for Shafik’s resignation have piled up Monday from both sides of the aisle, with Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) making similar demands. A group of Jewish House Democrats added during a visit to Columbia on Monday that they could also join the calls for the president to lose her job if changes aren’t soon made.

The criticism comes as concerns rise over the safety of the Jewish student body at Columbia, with some accusing protesters of harassment. Columbia moved classes online starting Monday, hours before the Jewish holiday of Passover begins.

The Biden administration denounced the protests Sunday, calling them “blatantly antisemitic” and accusing them of encouraging “calls for violence.” New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) made similar comments.

A significant portion of the protesting students are Jewish, and protest groups have fought back against characterizations of their demonstrations as antisemitic. There have been no reports of violence from the protests.

“We are frustrated by media distractions focusing on inflammatory individuals who do not represent us,” protest leaders wrote in a statement Sunday. “Our members have been misidentified by a politically motivated mob.”

“We firmly reject any form of hate or bigotry and stand vigilant against non-students attempting to disrupt the solidarity being forged among students,” they continued. “Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Black and pro-Palestinian classmates and colleagues who represent the full diversity of our country.”

In response to the criticisms of Columbia’s administration, Shafik said earlier Monday in a statement that she is “deeply saddened” by the campus protests.

“The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days,” she said. “These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas. We need a reset.”

“There is a terrible conflict raging in the Middle East with devastating human consequences,” she continued. “But we cannot have one group dictate terms and attempt to disrupt important milestones like graduation to advance their point of view. Let’s sit down and talk and argue and find ways to compromise on solutions.”

University leaders will hold discussions with student protesters and faculty in the coming days as an attempt to “deescalate” tensions on campus, she said.

New York Republican Reps. Nicole Malliotakis, Claudia Tenney, Nick Langworthy, Mike Lawler, Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota, Brandon Williams, Andrew Garbarino, Marc Molinaro and Stefanik signed the letter.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.