D'Esposito urges Columbia alum to withhold donations until president resigns

D'Esposito urges Columbia alum to withhold donations until president resigns
Rep. Anthony D'Esposito joins Speaker Mike Johnson on the steps of the Columbia University library. (Courtesy of Rep. Anthony D'Esposito)

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) joined 13 other congressmen in a letter Friday imploring Columbia University alumni and donors to pull their donations until the university president resigns amid pro-Palestine protests on campus.

“Until Pres. Shafik resigns & honor is restored to this once great institution, it’s no longer worthy of financial or personal support,” D’Esposito wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, and Facebook.

The letter called on the university to provide a review of school funding and claimed that the protests at Columbia and other schools have called for violence against Jewish students, faculty and staff.

The day before, D’Esposito joined Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana and two other representatives on the front steps of the Columbia library.

Johnson condemned the campus protests, called on Columbia University President Nemat Shafik to resign and said he would urge President Joe Biden to take executive action against the protesters, including use of the National Guard, if necessary.

His comments were largely drowned out by shouts and boos from the crowd. As crowd members chanted over his remarks, Johnson said: “Enjoy your free speech.”

“[Shafik] has failed her duty,” D’Esposito said. “She is not keeping students safe and we see on this campus the hate-filled speech that is carrying through this country.”

D’Esposito, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Rep. Mike Lawler visited the university April 22. Lawler represents New York’s 17th Congressional Distric, including Rockland County, Putnam County and northern Westchester County.

“As Nassau’s first Jewish county executive, I’m disgusted by what’s going on at Columbia, Yale University and at Hofstra University, where President Susan Poser is equivocating in her support for Israel,” Blakeman said in a Facebook post. “We denounced all forms of hate and anti-semitism.”

Efforts to reach Poser were unavailing.

This is not the first time Blakeman called out Poser by name. Blakeman accused Poser of colluding with competitors to prevent a Las Vegas Sands proposal - which would build a casino near Hofstra - from winning a gaming license bid. Hofstra denied any form of collusion with Las Vegas Sands competitors.

Hofstra students participated in a pro-Palestinian protest Thursday afternoon at the Hempstead campus. A smaller group of pro-Israeli students stood nearby.

“A group of passionate students and a few faculty gathered today outside Hofstra Hall to protest the war in Gaza,” a Hofstra spokesperson told News12. “The demonstration has been peaceful.”

At the time Blakeman made his Facebook post, Hofstra students had not yet held a protest.

“President Poser and Hofstra have suppressed our voices a lot, and I know that's similar to other universities, but that's why all of these protests are taking place on campuses,” said Zainab Mozawalla, president of Hofstra Student Voices for Palestine.

The junior pre-law student said these protests are a last resort after being silenced by the university.

“We pay so much money in tuition and we don't want any of that money going to Israeli funding. Hofstra even offers free trips to Israel, which we believe is an apartheid state,” Mozawalla said. “That's why we do these protests, because this is how we get our voices heard, and if this is the only way, then this is the only way.”

Adelphi students participated in a pro-Palestinian protest Monday at the Garden City campus.

“The university fully believes in the importance of fostering an environment where students and community members have the freedom to peacefully express themselves,” an Adelphi spokesperson told News12.

Efforts to reach Adelphi Students for Justice in Palestine were unavailing.

Columbia University faculty and students have staged protests in support of Palestinians amid the Israel-Hamas war for weeks on the college campus.

Dozens of students supporting Palestinians first staged a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on the campus April 17, pitching tents and occupying the center of campus.

Shafik appeared before a congressional committee that same day to condemn antisemitism and rebut claims that the university was a breeding ground for hate.

Now, nearly two weeks later, student protesters have occupied a building at the university, breaking through windows to gain entry very early Tuesday.

“These terror sympathizers will destroy Columbia University until leadership steps up,” D’Esposito wrote in a Facebook post with a video of protestors smashing windows. “Shafik’s out of her depth – resign.”

Columbia protesters referenced the anti-Vietnam War protests of 1968, when students occupied the same building, according to NBC News.

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