About 30 students in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lecture at Columbia University reportedly walked out of the auditorium Wednesday to take part in a larger protest accusing the university of being complicit in an effort to shame them for calling out the Israeli government’s actions in its war against the Hamas militant group.
The lecture, which had an audience of 300 students, was focused on women’s involvement in peace processes and was co-hosted by Clinton and Keren Yarhi-Milo, the dean of the university’s School of International and Public Affairs, according to The New York Times.
During the lecture, the 30 students packed up their belongings and exited the room, heading to the common area of the International Affairs School, where they joined a larger, silent protest.
Students, according to the Times, took issue with a display of their photographs and names on a mobile truck near campus last week, which featured a note reading: “Columbia’s Leading Anti-Semites.” They said the pictures were taken from an internal, private student portal. The students targeted were members of groups that had signed a statement condemning Israel over the ongoing conflict.
“The weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government and other Western governments, including the U.S. government, which fund and staunchly support Israeli aggression, apartheid and settler-colonization,” the statement reads.
The signatories’ names have for now been removed due to what the Palestinian solidarity groups decried as “Columbia’s abject failure and inability to protect its students from doxxing and harassment.”
A conservative non-profit organization called “Accuracy In Media” was behind the action, which students described to CNN as the “doxxing truck.” The right-wing group had previously also sent a truck to Harvard University, singling out student organizers who they claimed were supporting Hamas terrorists.
The Columbia students who joined Wednesday’s action called on their university to cover legal representation for the targeted students and take steps to protect their privacy, the Times reported.
In a statement to HuffPost, a School of International and Public Affairs spokesperson said the university’s “overriding priority is the safety and security of its students and community.”
“The University and SIPA take this responsibility very seriously — and this includes speaking out against doxing, a dangerous form of intimidation, as unacceptable,” they added.
Columbia President Minouche Shafik has condemned the targeting of students as “unacceptable” and announced the creation of the Doxing Resource Group that will serve as a point of contact for students wanting to discuss such issues.
Shafik has also created a task force on antisemitism to protect Jewish students.
Clinton joined the university this semester to teach a course titled “Inside the Situation Room” with Yarhi-Milo, which, among other things, covers how political psychology plays into foreign policy decision-making. All the students who were accepted to take the class were checked by the Secret Service, the Times previously reported.