Categories
Audio Posts In English

Columbia College Dean Says Disparaging Texts, Vomit Emojis Sent During Panel on Jewish Life Don’t Reflect the ‘Views’ of Administrators


The dean of Columbia College, Josef Sorett, issued a private apology on Friday for the text messages he and other administrators exchanged badmouthing panelists who participated in a talk about Jewish life at Columbia, writing that the dismissive and vitriolic remarks do not “indicate the views of any individual or the team.”

In an email to Columbia’s Board of Visitors, an alumni body that advises the dean, Sorett apologized for the “harm” the exchange caused and pledged that “it will not happen again”—though he did not acknowledge his own texts were captured in the exchanges.

“I have already spoken to each person involved and we understand that, as leaders, we are held to a higher standard,” he wrote.

Sorett also took a swipe at the “unknown third-party” who photographed the messages—sent in real time during the panel—decrying the “invasion of privacy” and suggesting that the exchange, while “upsetting,” had been taken out of context.

“These texts are not emblematic of the totality of their work,” Sorett said. “It makes the hard work that we are committed to even more challenging.”

Sorett did not respond to a request for comment regarding whether disciplinary proceedings are underway, why he omitted any reference to his own role in the scandal, and why the photographs constituted an invasion of privacy.

Sorett’s email message came in response to a Washington Free Beacon report published Wednesday evening based on photographs of several text messages sent by Columbia administrators during a May 31 panel held during the school’s alumni reunion weekend. A Columbia alumnus sitting behind one of the administrators, Columbia College vice dean and chief administrative officer Susan Chang-Kim, snapped pictures of Chang-Kim’s phone screen as the vice dean sent messages to and received responses from colleagues in the audience. The photographs have been circulating among Columbia University administrators and alumni for over a week, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, but Sorett’s message was the first time any of the parties have addressed them publicly.

Columbia University president Minouche Shafik has not spoken out about the incident, in which four top university administrators badmouthed participants in a panel discussion that included the former chairwoman of Columbia’s board of trustees, Lisa Carnoy; the former dean of Columbia Law School, David Schizer; and a current undergraduate student, Rebecca Massel. The panel discussion can be viewed here.

The messages showed the four administrators—Sorett, Chang-Kim, Columbia dean of undergraduate student life Cristen Kromm, and Columbia associate dean for student and family support Matthew Patashnick—mocking the panelists as they talked about the eruption of anti-Semitism on campus after Oct. 7, the experience of Jewish students at Columbia, and the administration’s failure to enforce its own rules.

“This is difficult to listen to but I’m trying to keep an open mind to learn about this point of view,” Chang-Kim texted Sorett during the panel. “Yup,” Sorett replied.

Text messages between Chang-Kim and Sorett.

At one point, Kromm used vomit emojis to refer to an op-ed by Columbia’s campus rabbi, Yonah Hain, that had warned about the “normalization of Hamas.”

Text from Cristen Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life, using vomit emojis to refer to a campus rabbi’s op-ed about anti-Semitism.

Patashnick suggested that one of the panelists was exploiting the moment’s “huge fundraising potential,” to which Chang-Kim replied: “Double Urgh.”

Text from Matthew Patashnick, the associate dean of student and family support, stating that one of the panelists is trying to “take full advantage” of the moment’s “fundraising potential.”

“We are looking carefully at this incident,” Sorett wrote on Friday. “We will learn from it, and we will serve the Columbia College community better for it.”

Sorett’s full email is below.

The post Columbia College Dean Says Disparaging Texts, Vomit Emojis Sent During Panel on Jewish Life Don’t Reflect the ‘Views’ of Administrators appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.