Columbia Law Students Tell Jewish Classmates Police Presence on Campus Makes Them Feel Unsafe

‘Your safety shouldn’t be predicated on making others unsafe,’ says Aya Hashem

Columbia Law School (Wikimedia Commons)
April 24, 2024

Columbia Law School students told their Jewish classmates they should not advocate for the school to bring police to campus to ensure their safety because the presence of law enforcement "makes students of color feel unsafe," screenshots obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show.

In one message, second-year law student Aya Hashem admonished her Jewish counterparts for advocating for police presence on campus, saying it "makes students of color feel unsafe and feel as though we've learned nothing since George Floyd."

"No single group's safety is more important than another's lol," Hashem wrote in a message on Monday to a GroupMe chat group that includes all members of Columbia Law School’s class of 2025.

"I shouldn't have to explain why POC especially black students do not want dozens of police officers in riot gear all over campus. Why are we pretending like we don't know that this country has a serious police brutality problem, where unarmed black people (especially men) are murdered indiscriminately by police officers???"

"Your safety shouldn't be predicated on making others unsafe," she told her Jewish classmates. "That's not real safety at all."

Another second-year law student, Deven Malone, echoed Hashem's statements and suggested the anti-Semitism on display across the Manhattan campus was actually in part a result of the police presence.

"It's worth noting," he wrote, "that the awful displays of anti-Semitism occurred Saturday, after hundreds of police officers had been deployed for campus for multiple days, raising the question of whether they are actually effective in promoting safety (at the expense of making plenty of students feel unsafe and uncomfortable)."

The messages, which garnered dozens of likes from members of the chat, come as Columbia continues to struggle with the anti-Semitic protests that have sown chaos in and around the school's Manhattan campus. On Monday, university president Minouche Shafik moved classes online for the rest of the academic year.

That announcement came in the wake of protests in which Jewish students were subject to violent demonstrations.

When a group of Jewish students took an Israeli flag to campus Saturday night, pro-Hamas agitators stole it and tried to burn it. The Jewish students were assaulted, splashed with water, and followed by protesters, according to one of the students.

Video from Saturday evening also showed a keffiyeh-clad individual holding a sign that pointed toward a group of Jewish students with the caption "Al-Qassam’s Next Targets," a reference to Hamas’s military wing, which carried out the terror attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. Another student live streamed a speech that called for "escalation" and glorified the attacks.

Hashem, Malone, and Columbia Law School did not respond to request for comment.

Hashem, who attended school in Beirut, Lebanon, before attending Duke University as an undergraduate, is no stranger to anti-Israel activism at Columbia.

She participated in an anti-Israel protest in November that disrupted law school classes, in violation of school policy. Hashem is also a leader of the Middle Eastern Law Students Association, which signed an open letter, "Oppression Breeds Resistance," that blamed Israel for Hamas’s atrocities on Oct. 7.

Malone, meanwhile, serves as a "campus ambassador" for Milbank LLP, a prominent white shoe law firm that signed a November letter calling on top law schools to combat "anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assaults on college campuses, including rallies calling for the death of Jews and the elimination of the State of Israel."

"Such anti-Semitic activities would not be tolerated at any of our firms," the letter said.

Milbank did not respond to a request for comment.

Malone also worked as a State Department intern in the Office of Conservation and Water, according to a résumé posted to LinkedIn. As an undergraduate student, he was a member of Georgetown University's "Hoya Hive," where he served as a beekeeper.

Last year, Malone expressed outrage over a group of Columbia law students who met with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Malone said he was "disappointed" to see his school "platforming an organization that leverages dark money to capture the courts," a reference to the Federalist Society.

In addition to Hashem and Malone, anti-Semitic student protesters have received support from Columbia professors, dozens of whom held a Monday rally to express solidarity with students suspended for holding unauthorized protests. Attendees also lambasted Shafik for cracking down on them and called for her resignation.

The rally was followed by anti-Semitic chants, including "Zionists you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide" and "There is only one solution, intifada revolution."