Columbia University has settled its first lawsuit with one of the many Jewish students whose civil rights were violated at will over the course of the past few months, during which overtly pro-Hamas encampments and their faculty supporters engaged in anti-Semitic harassment and exclusion, sometimes violently.

The settlement is an acknowledgement of the Munich-beer-hall atmosphere at Columbia. It also concentrates on the safety of the students: There will be a “Safe Passage Liaison” established to make sure alternate entrances and exits are available when students need them to access the same grounds their Hamasnik classmates can go to and from without worry.

There will also be a scholastic/scheduling accommodation made for students who feel unsafe on campus and prefer to fulfill part of their coursework remotely.

Lastly, the school “committed to continue fostering debate and discussion to encourage an alternative to the more extreme forms of protest,” according to the Washington Post.

To put it another way: Columbia cannot or will not pledge to make all open areas of the campus safe for Jewish students. Columbia cannot or will not take measures necessary to ensure that Jewish students will have access to the same educational opportunities that their non-Jewish classmates will have. Columbia cannot or will not even pretend to enforce its own rules evenly.

Look, I don’t blame the student or students who settled. But it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that Columbia has settled a civil-rights lawsuit by declaring its campus separate-but-equal. (And the “equal” part is pretty clearly still up in the air.)

Jewish students are already able to sneak around campus if they so choose. The entire point is that the school should be required to enact (or enforce) policies that make that unnecessary. Plus, students followed and harassed late at night on their way back to their dorms are still able to get into their building. What is a bureaucrat with a key and a beeper going to accomplish here?

Columbia is notorious for its professors—you know, the ones who hold the educational and thus professional fate of the students in their hands—openly targeting Jews. What’s the fix here? Next time Joseph Massad says that the rapes and murders of Oct. 7 were a “major achievement,” a student should just call the safety liaison to escort them from the building?

You begin to see here just how these safety liaisons can quickly become the Jew-baiters’ enforcers. A Columbia professor said Israelis are dangerous and shouldn’t be on campus; if a safety liaison shows up to help Israelis use the back door, whose side does it look like he’s on?

Jewish students feel stigmatized, so Columbia has generously agreed to stigmatize them further.

But that’s OK, because the school’s new separate-but-equal doctrine says those students can just leave campus and watch their classes on Zoom.

Instead of “fostering dialogue” perhaps Columbia can foster some pink slips? The administration has a job to do; this lawsuit settlement acknowledges that that job isn’t being done. The answer isn’t to hire more administrators.

In fact, expectations—of the faculty and of the students—are at the core of the problem here. The entitlement one encounters at Columbia is far from universal.

“Have pro-Palestinian protests taken place disproportionately at elite colleges, where few students come from lower-income families?” the Washington Monthly asked in May. “The answer is a resounding yes.”

Washington Monthly used Pell Grants, which are given to lower-income students to attend college, as its marker of socioeconomic diversity, and found that “Pro-Palestinian protests have been rare at colleges with high percentages of Pell students. Encampments at such colleges have been rarer still.”

Put simply: The Hamasvilles were far less likely to spring up on campuses where people have real problems and real work to do. This is not a knock on the students as much as it is on the administration: “Elite” universities’ expectations of its students have hit rock bottom because they have come to believe they must cater to the kids. Columbia and other such institutions are consumer products. It’s only at such places that students occupying campus spaces will have the temerity to make food-delivery demands, as they did during the “tentifada.” The administration has convinced its students that they are in charge, so they act like it.

Multi-week anti-Semitic encampments are a luxury good. If they are taking place at an institution you run, you do not need to hire a Safe Passage Liaison. You need to hire your replacement.

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