Barnard College's new dorm room rule sparks debate amid lawsuit alleging antisemitism on campus

Barnard and Columbia University are facing allegations from students of antisemitism on campus

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Students react to Barnard College's new rules amid lawsuit
Lauren Glassberg has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New rules are being implemented at Barnard College starting Wednesday, telling students to remove messages from their dorm room doors amid allegations of antisemitism at Barnard and Columbia University.

An email sent to students notes that some fixtures on doors serve as helpful communication but says "we are also aware that some may have the unintended effect of isolating those who have different views and beliefs."

The response on campus has been mixed.

"I agree that students should have freedom of speech but I understand polarization can be harmful to students as well," freshman Talia Spitz said.

"It's definitely overstepping," said a sophomore from New York. "Students are really dissatisfied with the administration about how they're handling our right to free speech and our right to protest."

Attorney Marc Kasowitz says banning the dorm signage does little to address the systemic issues of antisemitism on campus.

He represents a number of groups and students who filed a lawsuit last week against Barnard College and Columbia University for violating the civil rights of Jewish students.

"This is just like avoiding the problem," Kasowitz said. "The problem is that Jewish students are being harassed and intimidated."

Several students allege they have been subjected to a severe and pervasive hostile educational environment, which has worsened since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

Jewish and Israeli students have been physically assaulted, spat at, threatened, and subjected to relentless intimidation and vilification, the complaint also reads.

The defendants are asking both Columbia and Barnard to implement institutional, far-reaching, and concrete remedial measures.

The new dorm décor rule may be in response to the lawsuit, but it may also be an attempt to quell the tension that is palpable.

"There are a lot of emotions people want to stand up for what they believe in, but I think the administration wants to neutralize this as best they can," junior Audrey Byrne said.

If students don't remove the posters and signs, the college will, and while this new rule is meant to foster respect on campus, it may lead to even more debate.


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