Reaffirming Our Community Values

Earlier today, Dean of Columbia Engineering Shih-Fu Chang, Dean of Columbia School of General Studies Lisa Rosen-Metsch, and Dean of Columbia College & Vice President for Undergraduate Education Josef Sorett sent the following message to students regarding the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza and recent incidents on campus.

October 12, 2023

Dear Students, 

The ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza has impacted members of our community in deep and profound ways. Many students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members have family members and friends in harm's way, or are themselves in the region. Still others have deep cultural, religious, personal, professional, or intellectual ties to the area.

The realities of terrorism and war threaten our common humanity. The disrespect for life and wanton disregard of each person’s dignity and right to exist that they represent are affronts to our deepest values as an institution – and as individuals. The acts we have collectively borne witness to, particularly in the past days, shock the conscience and we reject them utterly. Moreover, they challenge our campus values to the core.

As Deans of our respective schools, our primary charge is to provide support and care for all of our students, ensuring that they feel as safe as possible in their campus community, and that they receive the guidance they need when external forces impede their ability to pursue academic endeavors.

Right now, we know that the atmosphere on campus is extremely charged and many are concerned for their personal safety. Community members are observing and experiencing disturbing anti-semitic and islamophobic acts, including intimidation and outright violence — as was experienced on campus outside Butler Library late yesterday afternoon — with some students being targeted based on their religious identity or political speech. It is important that you continue to report these incidents to Public Safety, University leaders, and staff. Even more, it is paramount — in a moment where it is most difficult to be together across our differences — that we recommit ourselves to doing precisely that.

Columbia stands resolutely as a community committed to open dialogue and intellectual freedom, respectfully affirming cultural, political, and religious diversity. At the same time, we reject and will not tolerate hate speech, violence, or the threat or any acts of violence in our community.  

It is our collective responsibility to uphold the values and standards of that community - and to respect the dignity and personal freedom of those who share it. We are confident in and trust you, our students, to uphold these values and standards. Thank you for respecting one another and for your sustained commitment to this collective enterprise.


Shih-Fu Chang
Dean of Columbia Engineering

Lisa Rosen-Metsch
Dean of Columbia School of General Studies

Josef Sorett
Dean of Columbia College,
Vice President for Undergraduate Education