Columbia Group Behind 'Resistance 101' Event Urges Members To Stonewall University Investigation as School Promises Disciplinary Action for Refusal To Cooperate

Administrators spar with Columbia University Apartheid Divest ahead of campus anti-Semitism congressional hearing

Anti-Israel protest at Columbia (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
April 4, 2024

The Columbia University student group behind the now-infamous "Palestinian Resistance 101" event—during which terror-tied speakers called for violence against Jews—is working to stonewall the university's investigation into the event, with the group urging its members to ignore messages from administrators and move forward with more unsanctioned rallies. Doing so will result in disciplinary action, the university says as its president prepares for a congressional hearing on campus anti-Semitism.

In a newsletter sent to supporters Wednesday night, Columbia University Apartheid Divest said university administrators "have been sending out threatening emails in order to intimidate student groups" about "last week's 'Resistance 101' teach-in." The group denounced those emails as "a fear tactic that Columbia administrators have been using all year to suppress those of us involved in the student movement for Palestine" and told its members to ignore them.

A Columbia University spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon that the school will discipline students who refuse to cooperate with the investigation. The letter sent to Columbia University Apartheid Divest members, which was obtained by the Free Beacon, says those who are "contacted as part of this safety investigation" are "required to cooperate."

"The University is instituting disciplinary action against those who do not cooperate with the investigation," the spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.

The students, however, seemed to be operating with a different understanding. "We do not recommend responding to the email, as it does not seem disciplinary in nature—there are no specific charges or follow up action items listed," the group wrote. "If you, as a student group member, have received a personal email about a follow-up conversation … Do not respond to the University's email. Do not communicate any sensitive information over email."

The dueling messages come roughly a week after Columbia announced an investigation into the "Resistance 101" event, which a university spokeswoman said was "unsanctioned" and "unapproved." They also come as Columbia's president, Minouche Shafik, prepares for a congressional hearing on campus anti-Semitism. A similar hearing held in December contributed to the ousting of two Ivy League presidents, Harvard University's Claudine Gay and the University of Pennsylvania's Liz Magill.

The Columbia University Apartheid Divest event was filmed and broadcast online via Zoom—the Washington Free Beacon attended virtually. So far, four students tied to the event face suspensions, according to a Columbia Spectator piece published Thursday night, roughly 24 hours after Columbia University Apartheid Divest sent its newsletter to members.

The event featured a number of terror-tied speakers including Charlotte Kates, a member of the Israeli-designated terror group Samidoun, who said that Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack "changed the world" by showing "the potential of a future for Palestine liberated from Zionism." She also praised Iran as a "nation on the side of the Palestinian people" working to free the Middle East from "U.S. imperialism" and urged attendees to join a campaign aimed at ending America's list of designated terror organizations "entirely."

Kates's husband, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine activist Khaled Barakat, told attendees that terrorist airplane hijackings of the 1960s and '70s were "one of the most important tactics that the Palestinian resistance have engaged in."

The event was initially scheduled to take place at Columbia's Barnard College, the university's all-female undergraduate school. At the start of the event, however, student organizers said they were forced to "change rooms" at the last moment after a Ph.D. student lodged a complaint to the university.

The event was moved to Columbia's "Q House," an "LGBTQ+ special interest community at Columbia University," according to an internal email obtained by the Free Beacon.

"This location change is due to Columbia University continuing to repress Palestinian students and the allies of the Palestinian struggle for liberation on campus," read the email, which was addressed to "comrades."

In addition to Columbia University Apartheid Divest's comments on the "Resistance 101" event, the group's newsletter outlined plans to move forward with a Thursday afternoon rally, titled "All Out for Al-Shifa." Columbia has already warned the group that the protest is "unauthorized" and could lead to "disciplinary action," according to the newsletter.

"[I]f this year of organizing and working together to fight for a Free Palestine has taught us anything, it's that this is the time to be loud," the group wrote. "This is the time to show up with your organization and your friends to take back the university."

"Assess your individual risk factors, but don't let administration profiting from a genocide scare us into silence."

Columbia University Apartheid Divest went on to advise its members to avoid detection by school administrators wearing all black and using a mask and keffiyeh to conceal facial features. The group also acknowledged that some of its members are not American citizens and could face visa issues if they participate.

"Please consider your risk factors (visa status, current disciplinary standing, etc.) and positionality when deciding to come, but remember we need you now more than ever to show your unconditional solidarity with Palestine," the group said. Its newsletter can be read in full here.

Updated 9:08 p.m.: This piece has been updated with additional information.