Three Columbia deans placed on leave over disparaging text exchange during antisemitism panel

Three deans at Columbia University have been put on leave after sending hostile text messages, including a vomiting face emoji, during a panel discussion about antisemitism during a recent alumni event.

Images of the text exchange between Josef Sorett, Susan Chang-Kim, Matthew Patashnick and Cristen Kromm, all associate deans and administrators at the Ivy League school, were captured by an alumnus sitting in the crowd during the May 31 panel about Jewish life on campus.

Susan Chang-Kim, Columbia College’s vice dean and chief administrative officer, was among the university brass placed on leave in the wake of the exchange. Columbia University

The group exchanged disparaging messages throughout the two-hour panel, during which speakers discussed at length the impact rising antisemitism stoked by Israel’s war against Hamas has had on the school’s Jewish students and faculty.

Among the speakers were former Columbia Law School dean David Schizer, co-chair of the elite school’s antisemitism task force; Brian Cohen, executive director of Columbia’s Kraft Center for Jewish Life; Ian Rottenberg, the university’s dean of religious life; and student Rebecca Massel, who covered anti-Israel campus protests for the student newspaper, the Columbia Daily Spectator.

Matthew Pataschnick, Columbia’s associate dean for student and family support, accused a speaker at a camus antisemitism panel of exploiting the event for its “fundraising potential.” Columbia College

As the panelists shared their assessments of the distressing climate Jewish students have faced since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack against Israel, the Columbia leaders fired off mocking and dismissive messages, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

In one exchange, Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life, used the queasy and vomiting emojis in reference to an October, 2023 op-ed in the Spectator titled “Sounding the alarm,” written by Yonah Hain, the school’s campus rabbi.

In it, he warned the university community had “lost its moral compass” as troubling anti-Israel demonstrations began engulfing campus in the fall.

Kromm also made a sarcastic reference to the article as a Jewish alumna burst into tears describing the hostility her sophomore daughter has experienced.

Cristen Kromm, dean of undergraduate student life, sent queasy and vomiting face emojis in the group chat with fellow university leaders in reference to an op-ed written by the campus rabbi decrying the rise of antisemitic sentiment on campus. Columbia University

“And we thought Yonah sounded the alarm…” the derisive message read.

Another exchange shows Pataschnick, Columbia’s associate dean for student and family support, accuse an unknown member of the panel of exploiting the situation.

“He knows exactly what he’s doing and how to take full advantage of this moment. Huge fundraising potential,” to which Chang-Kim, vice dean and chief administrative officer of Columbia College, replied “Double Urgh.”

In an email to Columbia’s Board of Visitors obtained by the outlet, Sorett, the dean of Columbia College, apologized for the “harm” the messages caused, insisting the snide comments don’t “indicate the views of any individual or the team.”

He also hit out at the “unknown third-party” who took photos of the group chat, arguing the contents being made public constituted an “invasion of privacy.”

In his missive, Sorett “reiterated his commitment to learning from this situation and other incidents over the last year to build a community of respect and healthy dialogue,” but has not been placed on leave as of Friday night, the Beacon reports.

Columbia’s campus has been a hotbed of anti-Israel demonstrations since the Jewish state began its retalitatory strike against Hamas after the Oct. 7 terror attack. Getty Images

In response to the university officials being placed on leave, a Columbia University spokesperson told The Post, “We are committed to combatting antisemitism and taking sustained, concrete action to ensure Columbia is a campus where Jewish students and everyone in our community feels safe, valued, and able to thrive.”

Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus became a hotbed of anti-Israel protest activity soon after Israel began its retaliatory bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of demonstrators erected makeshift tent cities on the campus of the $90,000-per-year school throughout the fall and spring, periodically clashing with cops as they were called in to disperse the unruly crowds.

During one standout incident in late April, a huge mob of masked pro-Hamas rioters occupied the university’s Hamilton Hall building, smashing a window with a hammer and draping a huge flag calling for “intifada” from a second-story window.

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