PROF. GIORDANO: Columbia deans scandal exposes the rot at the top of America's universities

This incident is simply a microcosm of the real problem in higher education – that higher education itself is culpable for fostering a culture of intolerance.

Nicholas Giordano is a professor of Political Science, the host of The P.A.S. Report Podcast, and a fellow at Campus Reform’s Higher Education Fellowship. With 2 decades of teaching experience and over a decade of experience in the emergency management/homeland security arena, Professor Giordano is regularly called on to speak about issues related to government, politics, and international relations.

Instead of developing the student body intellectually and socially, many universities have become echo chambers for anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. Not only have universities failed to prepare students for the complexities of the real world, but they have also fostered an environment where certain viewpoints and concerns are marginalized. Much of what we are witnessing is a result of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEISJ) movements where hateful rhetoric and stereotypes are not only amplified, its normalized at the very top of the administrative hierarchy.

The ideological extremism has become much more intense since the October 7th Hamas terrorist attacks. I have previously written about how spineless college administrators allowed protests to morph into hate movements that advocate hostility and violence as radical extremists commandeered college campuses. Now, newly released text messages by the House Committee on Education show it goes beyond mere inaction or weakness. It is the very culture these institutions have nurtured on their campus which has allowed extremism to flourish.

These text messages reveal that some top officials actively demonstrate a hatred for Jewish students and dismiss legitimate concerns about anti-Semitism. This rot is deeply rooted in the very leadership meant to guide these institutions.

Since October 7th, Jewish students have been subjected to taunts, threats, harassment, and even assault. Rather than put an end to the hostile campus environment, Columbia University vice dean and chief administrative officer, Susan Chang-Kim, dismissed the concerns of Jews and texted that their complaints “comes from such a place of privilege” and that it is “hard to hear the woe is me.”

[RELATED: Columbia chooses not to terminate three deans who pushed anti-Semitic tropes in texts]

During a May 31st Columbia University panel on anti-Semitism, as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor aired her concerns about her sophomore daughter and the rampant anti-Semitism at Columbia University, Chang-Kim texted a few of her colleagues that she was “going to throw-up,” to which dean Cristen Kromm replied, “Amazing what $$$$ could do.”

Following these revelations, Columbia University rightly placed these individuals on administrative leave. The University released a statement that they are investigating this incident with the “utmost seriousness,” and they are committed “to confronting anti-Semitism, discrimination, and hate.”

Columbia University has put three of the administrators on leave (probably paid) but will not terminate them. This incident is simply a microcosm of the real problem in higher education – that higher education itself is culpable for fostering a culture of intolerance. Higher education has abandoned any pretense to support the exchange of diverse perspectives and ideas. Instead, many institutions chose to go all in on  DEISJ initiatives.

Does anyone seriously believe that these administrators would still be employed for even a moment if they had directed such inflammatory and derogatory remarks toward Black or Hispanic populations?

[RELATED: New York Republican introduces legislation to hold universities ‘accountable’ for anti-Semitism]

Despite the original goal of DEISJ initiatives to create a more inclusive learning environment, it has resulted in a tribal mentality that encourages intolerance toward any perspective outside the DEISJ groupthink narrative. Everything must be viewed through the lens of race, privilege, and oppression. DEISJ is a cancer that pushes people into groups, which are then pitted against each other. Members of these groups are classified as either oppressors or oppressed, privileged or victims.

This cultural movement distorts reality, perverts higher education, and allows open discrimination against whoever is perceived as privileged – white Europeans, Jews, and even some Asians as demonstrated by race-based admissions. The far-left claimed that DEISJ initiatives were supposed tackle racism and division, yet it has fueled exactly that as evidenced by the brazen anti-Semitism prevalent on many college campuses throughout the country. Yet, those that dare to challenge the DEISJ mob mentality are branded racist, bigots that ‘threaten democracy.’

In order to reclaim our institutions of higher education and restore their integrity, we must take decisive action. We must dismantle the DEISJ agenda and eliminate DEISJ degree requirements. However, that is just the beginning. We must get back to the core mission of higher education – foster critical thinking and embrace intellectual diversity in pursuit of truth.

The campus culture must be purged of the activist ideology that has led to the anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism we are witnessing today. We need to cultivate a culture where viewpoints can be expressed and debated freely without fear. As we tackle campus culture, colleges need to return to the principles of open inquiry, respectful dialogue, merit and rigorous academic standards, which would undoubtedly lead to respectful dialogue and restore confidence in our institutions.

Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.