Columbia is investigating an incident of antisemitism on its Morningside campus reported late Tuesday in which a swastika was painted on the steps of Low Library. University Life condemned the incident in a statement on its website.

On Tuesday, October 6, Columbia University received a report that a swastika had been found on the steps of Low Library. In their October 7 statement, the Office of University Life said that “antisemitism does not have a place at Columbia, as our community strives every day to remain a welcoming and inclusive place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

This event is not the first of its kind, with swastikas and antisemitic hate speech found painted in Columbia Teachers College’s Professor Elizabeth Midlarsky’s office in November 2018 and once before in 2007.  

This attack comes at a time of renovation at Columbia/Barnard Hillel, the center for Jewish life at Columbia University, to proactively revamp security measures in light of an overall increase in antisemitic incidents across the United States. According to the New York Times, the country saw a 12% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2019, with New York reporting the largest number of incidents. 

The email pictured below was sent on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 5:14 pm.

Screenshot of a newsletter containing this update from Brian Cohen, Hillel’s Lavine Family Executive Director

Below is the statement from Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, the Executive Vice President for Columbia’s Office of University Life:

October 7, 2020

Dear Columbia community,

Late yesterday, the University received a report that a swastika had been drawn on the steps in front of Low Library. We condemn this expression of antisemitism and are investigating the incident. 

The divisions that now roil our nation and the world have given rise to increasing acts of bias and hate in far too many communities. Antisemitism does not have a place at Columbia, as our community strives every day to remain a welcoming and inclusive place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

We want to be sure you’re aware of how to report incidents and concerns, and how to seek help for yourself or a friend:

Report an Incident

You can contact Public Safety or use University Life’s “report an incident” link to report a potential bias incident:

  • Contact Public Safety if you have a safety concern or to report a potential bias incident or crime. 
    • If you’re on the Morningside campus, call 212-854-5555.
    • If you’re on the Medical Center campus, call 212-305-7979.
    • If you have an emergency, call 911 right away.
    • Public Safety’s website also has more information on hate crimes, including vandalism.

Coping Resources

We always encourage you to make use of these resources whenever you need:

If you have questions or concerns, please also don’t hesitate to contact us at

At Columbia, our work is rooted in the fundamental belief in the dignity and value of every human life. I am grateful to be a member of such an extraordinary community.

In community, 

Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg

Executive Vice President for University Life

Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law

Below is the email sent to students subscribed to Hillel’s news emails on October 7 at 7:17 pm from Matthew Rosenberg, Columbia Hillel’s ​Student Executive Board President and Brian Cohen, Columbia Hillel’s Lavine Family Executive Director 

Dear students,

We are pained to share that late yesterday the University received a report that a swastika was found on the steps of Low Library. We are grateful to the administration for their quick condemnation and commitment to investigating this hateful act. We will continue to work with the Columbia University administration to halt the growing trend of Jewish students feeling unsafe or unwelcome on campus. 

In this difficult moment, we wish we could gather together on campus and at the Kraft Center to support and comfort one another. Columbia/Barnard Hillel remains committed to advocating for the physical and emotional safety and security of Jewish students on campus, and we encourage you to reach out to appropriate resources if you are feeling unsafe or upset. Despite our physical distance, you’re invited, as always, to reach out to any Hillel professional, who are all available to listen to whatever you’d like to share; if you’re not sure who to reach out to, email Shana. As always, the following campus resources are available to you:

In such a divisive moment, let’s use this hateful incident as a reminder to continue to build bridges across communities and to work towards a campus culture of inclusivity and respect for all.

Matthew Rosenberg                  

​Student Executive Board President

Brian Cohen                                                       

Lavine Family Executive Director 

Barnard’s statement on the incident can be found below:

Dear Barnard community,

Yesterday, Barnard was made aware that a swastika was found drawn on the steps of Low Library, the center of the Columbia University campus and a convivial place of gathering for the university community. In a moment when there are few spaces to be together, this impacts community members’ sense of safety and belonging on our university campus.

We, like all of you, are tired and angry at the continued expressions of hate. Not only are such acts in violation of our non-discrimination policies, they stand in direct opposition to the environment that Barnard has worked to cultivate for Jewish students over many generations. Barnard is a place of belonging for the diversity of Jewish identity and we will continue to work to cultivate an environment of safety for this community.  

Additionally, please review the message from Columbia’s Office of University Life that was posted on their website yesterday.  

When taking care of yourself and offering support to each other, please remember that Furman Counseling Center resources are available, and we encourage you to reach out as needed.

Take care,

Ariana González Stokas, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Leslie Grinage, Dean of the College

Editor’s Note, 10/8 1:40 PM: The title of this article was edited to highlight the presence of the antisemitic symbol on the steps rather than Columbia’s condemnation.