Nearly 300 students were seated at Columbia University on Wednesday afternoon for a two-hour lecture on women’s involvement in peace processes delivered by Hillary Clinton and Keren Yarhi-Milo, the dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Not even halfway through the class, about 30 students stood up and gathered their computers and backpacks, as part of a planned student walkout. They joined several dozen other protesters congregating near the lobby of the building.
The demonstrators, who sat quietly in a common area in the International Affairs Building — many of them in face masks — were protesting what they perceived as the school’s role in publicly shaming students whose photographs appeared last week on the video screen panels on a truck seen near campus. The screens showed the faces of students beneath the words “Columbia’s Leading Antisemites.” The students said the photographs were taken from a “private and secure” online platform for students at the School of International and Public Affairs.
They demanded “immediate legal support for affected students” and “a commitment to student safety, well being and privacy.”
The students whose images appeared on the video panels were members of groups that had signed a statement about the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel that said, in part, “The weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government.”
As Ms. Yarhi-Milo and Mrs. Clinton’s class was finishing around 4 p.m., the demonstrators shushed themselves into silence, anticipating that the dean and the former secretary of state would soon walk past the gathered students. That time never came. Word spread that Ms. Yarhi-Milo and Mrs. Clinton had left the building through a side door.
A spokeswoman for Columbia said the university had no comment. The protest came the day after the school announced a new task force on doxxing and student safety.