3 Columbia Deans Placed on Leave Over Conduct at Antisemitism Panel

3 Columbia Deans Placed on Leave Over Conduct at Antisemitism Panel

In recent news, Columbia University has placed three deans on leave following the revelation of inappropriate conduct during a panel on antisemitism. During a discussion about Jewish life on campus, leaked images showed the administrators exchanging disparaging text messages. This incident has intensified the ongoing scrutiny at the university since the Israel-Hamas war began last fall. The involved officials—Susan Chang-Kim, Cristen Kromm, and Matthew Patashnick—are now under investigation, with Chang-Kim also having communicated with another dean, Josef Sorett. Columbia's actions underscore the university's commitment to addressing misconduct and fostering a respectful campus . Have you ever wondered how academic officials handle controversies on sensitive subjects? The recent incident at Columbia University involving three deans at an antisemitism panel has raised just such questions, bringing to light the intricate of maintaining professionalism while addressing deeply emotional and polarized topics.


Columbia University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States, recently found itself at the center of a significant scandal. This controversy revolves around three deans who were placed on leave following their conduct at a panel discussion about antisemitism. This article explores the events that unfolded, the context in which they occurred, and the larger implications for the university and beyond.

The Incident at Columbia University

Let's delve into the specific details of the incident that rattled Columbia University and grabbed national headlines.

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The Panel Discussion on Antisemitism

On May 31, during a Columbia College reunion, a panel discussion took place focusing on Jewish life on campus, specifically in the context of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The panel aimed to address the complex and often contentious issues surrounding antisemitism, especially as tensions were high due to the geopolitical situation.

Leaked Images and Disparaging Text Messages

The controversy erupted when images were leaked showing the three deans sharing disparaging text messages during the panel discussion. These text messages, which were seen as mocking and inappropriate, were shared publicly by The Washington Free Beacon.

  • Susan Chang-Kim, the vice dean and chief administrative officer, was one of the officials involved.
  • Cristen Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life, and
  • Matthew Patashnick, the associate dean for student and family support, were also implicated.

In one specific exchange cited in the report, Susan Chang-Kim shared a sarcastic message about Brian Cohen, the executive director of Columbia/Barnard Hillel, which led to a text response from another official with the acronym “LMAO” (Laughing My Ass Off).

The Immediate Aftermath

After the images surfaced, there was an almost immediate reaction from the university. A spokesperson announced that the three officials involved were placed on leave pending an investigation into their conduct during the panel discussion.

3 Columbia Deans Placed On Leave Over Conduct At Antisemitism Panel

Background and Context

To fully understand the gravity of this situation, it's essential to appreciate the background and broader context in which it occurred.

The Israel-Hamas Conflict

The discussion occurred against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war that escalated last fall. This conflict reignited global debates and emotions, particularly on university campuses, where discourse around Israel and Palestine is often intensely polarized.

Jewish Life on Campus

Jewish students and faculty at Columbia University have voiced concerns about feeling unsafe or marginalized amid these tensions. The panel was intended to address these concerns and foster a supportive environment for Jewish members of the university community.

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The Officials Involved

Now, let's take a closer look at the roles and responsibilities of the officials who were involved in this incident.

Susan Chang-Kim

As the vice dean and chief administrative officer, Susan Chang-Kim held a significant administrative position, overseeing various aspects of university operations and contributing to policy-making decisions.

Cristen Kromm

Cristen Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life, was responsible for ensuring a positive and inclusive campus environment for all students, which makes her involvement in this controversy particularly notable.

Matthew Patashnick

Matthew Patashnick's role as the associate dean for student and family support involved providing support services to students and their families, enhancing their overall experience at the university.

3 Columbia Deans Placed On Leave Over Conduct At Antisemitism Panel

Implications of the Incident

The incident has broader implications, affecting not only the individuals involved but also the university's reputation and community.

University Response and Investigation

Columbia University's decision to place the deans on leave while conducting an investigation shows its commitment to addressing the issue transparently and seriously. Investigations of this nature are essential in maintaining trust within the academic community.

Impact on Jewish Students and Faculty

The incident is particularly distressing for Jewish students and faculty, who might feel that their concerns are not taken seriously. The university needs to reassure its Jewish community of its commitment to inclusivity and safety.

Administrative Accountability

This controversy highlights the vital importance of professionalism and accountability among university officials. The actions taken by Columbia University serve as a reminder of the standards expected of those in positions within academic institutions.

Lessons Learned and Reflections

Every crisis presents an opportunity for reflection and learning. Here are some key takeaways from this incident.

The Importance of Professional Conduct

Professional conduct is crucial, especially during discussions of sensitive topics. This incident underscores the importance of sensitivity, respect, and decorum in maintaining a constructive and supportive academic environment.

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Transparency in Handling Controversies

Columbia University's decision to promptly place the deans on leave and conduct an investigation sets a precedent for how institutions can handle similar controversies. Transparency is key to maintaining trust and credibility.

Support for Marginalized Communities

Universities must ensure that they have robust support systems in place for marginalized communities. This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students and faculty members.

3 Columbia Deans Placed On Leave Over Conduct At Antisemitism Panel

Moving Forward

As Columbia University navigates this controversy, there are several steps it can take to move forward positively.

Conducting a Thorough Investigation

Ensuring a thorough and impartial investigation will be crucial in addressing this issue. The findings should be communicated transparently to the university community.

Reaffirming Commitment to Inclusivity

The university must reaffirm its commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive environment, particularly for its Jewish community. This could include organizing more forums and panels that facilitate open and respectful dialogue.

Implementing Preventative Measures

Preventive measures, such as training sessions on sensitivity and professional conduct, should be implemented to avoid such incidents in the future. These sessions can help foster a culture of respect and inclusivity.


The incident at Columbia University serves as a stark reminder of the responsibilities that come with roles in academic institutions. By addressing this controversy transparently and constructively, Columbia has the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to inclusivity, respect, and accountability. This situation underlines the importance of sensitivity and professionalism, especially when dealing with sensitive and polarized topics such as antisemitism. In moving forward, it is crucial for the university to continue fostering an environment of understanding, respect, and support for all members of its community.

3 Columbia Deans Placed On Leave Over Conduct At Antisemitism Panel

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