Between March 9 and 11, Columbia SJP released audio recordings of Columbia President Minouche Shafik, Barnard President Laura Rosenbury, and Vice President Gerald Rosberg speaking on recent student protests regarding Israel and Palestine.

This past weekend, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) released audio recordings of various University officials speaking on student protests. In a series of videos posted to SJP Twitter and Instagram pages, Columbia President Minouche Shafik, Barnard President Laura Rosenbury, and Vice President Gerald Rosberg respond to student questions on the University response to student protests supporting Israel and Palestine. 

On March 9, SJP leaked an undated audio recording of Vice President Rosberg discussing student rhetoric regarding Israel. In the recording, Rosberg depicts student protests and “talk about genocide… apartheid state and racist state, Minouche Shafik you’re supporting genocide” as upsetting to many Columbia students. “I could imagine… that an Israeli student being told that their state is an apartheid state, a racist state committing genocide seems to them like an incitement of violence against them,” Rosberg stated. An accompanying SJP Instagram caption maintains that Rosberg is the individual “who suspended SJP and JVP without following university procedure.” 

The next day, SJP posted another undated audio recording to their social media, this time depicting President Minouche Shafik speaking at a Listening Forum session in which she seemingly compares the usage of the word “intifada” in student protest chants to an anti-Black slur. In the recording, Shafik states, “If someone uses the n-word, that’s considered unacceptable. But yet you’re allowed to say things that threaten them [the Jewish community], right? That’s the criticism that would be inconsistent.” In SJP’s posts, the recording is accompanied by a video stating that Shafik is “comparing the use of ‘intifada’ to the n-word.” The leaked audio recording did not contain the word “intifada,” but alluded to a phrase offensive to the Jewish community. 

Throughout pro-Palestine campus protests, the word “intifada” has been often used in chants. The significance of the phrase has long been debated among Palestinian and Israeli communities. Intifada is an Arabic word translating to “shaking off,” commonly used to reference uprisings against Israeli occupation. However, the phrase is also interpreted by some as a call to violence against Jewish people.

On March 11, SJP released an undated recording of Barnard President Laura Rosenbury speaking about her decision to not include the Palestinian death toll in an October 26 email sent out to the Barnard community. In this email, Rosenbury stated such death tolls as “more than 1,400 innocent Israeli civilians” on October 7 and “more tragic deaths of Israelis and Palestinians” subsequently. On SJP’s Instagram, the accompanying caption read that Rosenbury “is the person behind the severe censorship at Barnard.” The Twitter caption read that Rosenbury’s lack of reporting the Palestinian death toll in an email sent to the student body came after Columbia Palestinian students had lost family members. 

In the recording, Rosenbury justifies her decision to provide only the Israeli death toll, stating she was “focused just on how to describe what happened on October 7.” In response to this explanation, an unnamed individual asked Rosenbury, “What about the occupation for 75 years?” to which Rosenbury responded, “That’s right, but it started on October 7.” As an individual pointed out that Rosenbury’s email was sent on October 26, a time after many more casualties were reported, Rosembury acknowledges that she “did not enumerate, and that’s a point well taken.” Rosenbury then stated that death toll reports “can be contested,” and that “maybe it would have been best to leave out all numbers.” Finally, she stated that she “was just trying to signal why October 7 was the pivotal point in our community,” claiming that she didn’t see any Islamophobia or anti-Semitism on campus until after that time. 

Along with SJP posting the above recordings, additional student groups and internet personalities joined in shared Instagram posts. BC/CU Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) was a co-poster in the above posts, while Columbia Barnard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP CBT) was a co-poster in the recording of Vice President Rosberg. In all of the above posts, journalist Ahmed Eldin and internet personality Jenan Matari were co-posters. Activist Seasters Jones and Alana Hadid, internet personality and sister of Gigi and Bella Hadid, were also co-posters in some of the above Instagram posts. The above celebrities and internet personalities who were included have followings of above 100,000, some with over one million. Their inclusion signifies that the sentiment of Columbia University officials on student protests is reaching global audiences. 

Student Protest via Bwog Archives