Mark Figley: Consequence of college protests

While anti-Israel protests continue to fade on U.S. campuses as schools adjourn for summer break, not all is well for some students’ job prospects who were willing participants in the mayhem that ensued.

Thirteen Trump-appointed federal judges recently wrote a letter to Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, informing her that “absent extraordinary change,” they would no longer consider hiring any university undergraduates or law students beginning with the entering class of 2024. Why? Because the behavior exhibited by students during the course of campus protests was characterized by extreme intolerance and hate towards Jews and was clearly inconsistent with our system of justice and the rule of law.

For those who may have missed it, Columbia protesters occupied and defaced the school’s Hamilton Hall (resulting in multiple arrests), took maintenance workers captive, assaulted and shouted vile expletives at Jewish students and made a general mess of the campus through strewn debris.

Of course, the students were incited by many professional protesters and hundreds of Columbia faculty who face no such consequences. One of the more stalwart Columbia professors even described Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israeli civilians as “an awesome and stunning victory of the Palestinian resistance.” How’s that for mentoring?

As events at Columbia continued to evolve, the safety of Jewish students became increasingly risky. So much so that the editors of the Columbia Law Review caved to the chaos by actually demanding that classes be canceled, with all students receiving an automatic passing grade.

In their university correspondence, the judges determined that Columbia had become an “incubator of bigotry” and demanded that the school ensure serious consequences for students and faculty who threatened Jewish students, guarantee the future protection of free speech and equally applied rules of conduct and significantly change the composition of its faculty and administration to promote diverse viewpoints.

The jurists also expressed concern that the message of the university protests made clear that Columbia had failed in “its ability to train future leaders of a pluralistic and intellectually diverse country” and that the school “applies double standards when it comes to free speech and student misconduct.”

Some have chosen to criticize the judges for harshly reacting to campus events by punishing students who didn’t participate. Yet the result of a hiring boycott relating to any issue would have similar unfair consequences.

It is long past time that out-of-control universities, campus agitators and cancel culture apologists understand that academia’s mission is to educate, not indoctrinate; and to teach tolerance, not hate and violence.

Thirteen judges finally said enough is enough. Wealthy college alumni have also woken up and ceased donations to Columbia and other assorted institutions to send the same message. For students who think they have been mistreated, there is always the option to take their skills to another university, or to protest, which many are seemingly better at than studying.

At the end of the day, actions have consequences and life is unfair; two facts that one is never too young to learn.

Mark Figley is a political activist and guest columnist from Elida. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.