Columbia Students Under Investigation for Disruption of Conservative Event Banned From Future Events

Butler Library at Columbia University

Butler Library at Columbia University / Wikimedia Commons

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Columbia University students under investigation for the disruption of a recent event hosted by the campus chapter of the College Republicans have been banned from attending the group's programming while the inquiry is ongoing.

Provost John Coatsworth gave those instructions to students being investigated for responsibility in the Oct. 10 shout-down of a CUCR-hosted talk via webcam with Tommy Robinson, a far-right British politician and white nationalist activist, student paper the Columbia Daily Spectator reported Tuesday.

Robinson's talk was almost immediately derailed due to chants from left-wing protesters, many of whom held signs reading "hate speech=violence," the Spectator reported.

Coatsworth's unusual instructions come ahead of a CUCR event featuring alt-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, scheduled to speak on Oct. 30 about "the Rise of the Alternative Media."

Coatsworth told the Spectator he was permitted to issue sanctions prior to the conclusion of an investigation into student conduct, as the university leadership has the power to prevent a "demonstration [that] poses a clear and present danger" to the university community.

The provost suggested that the student protesters could come to an agreement with administrators in which the ban would be lifted, or the case dropped altogether. The students would be expected to "pledge not to disrupt events," said Coatsworth.

Should the inquiry proceed and students found responsible for impeding the free speech rights of Robinson and CUCR, disciplinary action could be imposed, including expulsion.

A petition launched Monday titled "Don't Discipline Students for Protesting White Supremacy," which takes issue with the administrative response to the Robinson incident, has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures.

Also this week, fliers were posted around the Columbia campus featuring the pictures, names, and personal information of CUCR's executive board members.

The New York City Anti-Fascist Action group took credit, condemning CUCR for hosting Cernovich and writing on social media, "They never thought they would have to face consequences for inviting fascists to speak at their campus. We believe otherwise. If you see these people, let them know what you think…"

CUCR noted on Facebook that "[our] invitation of Mr. Cernovich is not an endorsement of his views."

Rachel Frommer

Rachel Frommer   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Rachel Frommer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon reporting on campus issues, including anti-free speech and anti-Israel activity. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was the senior campus correspondent at The Algemeiner. Her work has been picked up by Fox News, Newsweek, and the New York Post. She graduated from Touro College in 2016 with a BA in English literature. Her Twitter handle is @Rachel_Frommer, and her email address is frommer@freebeacon.com.

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