Columbia University’s Commencement Cowardice

“Columbia just cancelled their commencement. That shouldn’t happen,” said former, and perhaps future, President Donald J. Trump on Monday outside a Manhattan courtroom, where he is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records. Regardless of Trump’s many political differences with President Joe Biden, it would seem he and his rival agree, at least, on this question. On Sunday Biden said, “Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancelation of classes and graduation, none of this is a peaceful protest.”

Yet, in what amounts to another victory for global jihad—and one that shows how little Biden matters in both the Middle East and the U.S. discussion of it—Columbia University has announced its 2024 general commencement ceremonies are canceled. Instead, in an obvious crisis of confidence, Columbia’s administration, which claims to have made its decision based on unspecified “feedback” from unidentified “student leaders,” has “decided to make the centerpiece of our Commencement activities our Class Days and school-level ceremonies.”

Those school-level ceremonies originally scheduled for the institution’s troubled South Lawn, where pro-Hamas demonstrations have taken place, will be moved, however. Columbia claims that “these smaller-scale, school-based celebrations are most meaningful to them and their families.” In other words, bowing to terrorist activity on its campus is really not such a big deal, and anyone who feels disappointed should just get over it and let Hamas call the shots in Morningside Heights.

Columbia’s decision comes just one day after an analysis released by Politico established through federal tax records that two of the most prominent protest groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, received significant funds from the George Soros-seeded Tides Foundation, which has also been supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and other groups that give mainly to leftist causes.

Nicholas and Susan Pritzker, who donated $300,000 to Biden in 2020 and have given the $6,600 couple’s maximum to Biden this year, according to public filings, have also supported groups involved in pro-Palestinian protests. Pritzker’s cousins include Adam Pritzker, a member of Columbia’s Board of Trustees, and Penny Pritzker, a senior fellow who helms the Harvard Corporation and led the executive search that named the disgraced Claudine Gay as Harvard’s president. Penny Pritzker is believed to have strongly resisted calls for Gay’s ouster after the former Harvard president infamously testified before Congress that calling for the deaths of Jews could violate institutional policy “depending on the context.”

One of Columbia’s top protest leaders, Aidan Parisi, is the son of Biden State Department senior policy adviser Elizabeth Daugharty, according to reporting by The New York Post. Daugharty’s LinkedIn page boasts that she has been “one of three officers who coordinate the U.S. Government’s efforts on the safe use of nuclear energy around the globe,” including a “focus on the Government’s preparedness in case of a nuclear emergency.” If that does not reassure you, as a health adviser for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Europe and Eurasia (E&E) Bureau, part of Daugharty’s job was to “back up the E&E Gender Adviser on issues such as gender equality, women’s empowerment, and LGBTI.” Her son, who called for Columbia to be burned down and was one of the students who occupied Hamilton Hall, has been suspended but apparently not removed from campus. When the NYPD cleared the occupied building, he was arrested on burglary charges, charged with third-degree criminal trespass, and released on his own recognizance. On X he has pledged to continue his protest activities.

An infinitesimal percentage of Columbia students participated in the demonstrations over the past weeks. Columbia president Nemat Shafik chose to address them haphazardly, vacillating between sending in the police, negotiating with the protesters, and doing nothing. Compare Shafik’s spinelessness to Florida State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues’s resolve on April 30, when he informed the state’s 13 public university presidents that “we must protect the integrity of our commencement ceremonies” and that “no commencement ceremony should be cancelled, or substantively modified.” Last week, protesters who violated clear guidelines set down at the University of Florida and the University of South Florida were arrested, charged, and identified in the media.

“We are determined to give our students the celebration they deserve, and that they want,” Columbia’s statement read. It has failed to do that and failed to ensure basic order and safety. Shafik should resign in disgrace and Columbia’s federal funds should be cut in full.

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