NY Dem Sens. Schumer, Gillibrand avoid Columbia campus as ‘Squad’ descends to back agitators

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have avoided visiting Columbia University as anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations descend into chaos on the campus. 

A pro-Palestinian occupation first developed on the Ivy League campus earlier this month and soon evolved into an encampment, taking over a portion of the outdoor space at the school. 

It has persisted since then, being spurred on by the support of high-profile Democratic legislators from New York. Both Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., were seen visiting members of the encampment as it continued to gain national media attention and attract significant backlash.

A spokesperson for Schumer did not respond to multiple inquiries but referred Fox News Digital to the majority leader’s Tuesday remarks on the Senate floor, in which he addressed the protests.


“Smashing windows with hammers and taking over university buildings is not free speech — it is lawlessness, and those who did it should promptly face the consequences that are not merely a slap on the wrist,” Schumer said, referencing the demonstrators’ recent takeover of a building on Columbia’s campus. 

The New York Democrat’s office would not say whether he would follow the lead of House GOP leadership and visit the school, which happens to be in his home state. 

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., last week led several Republicans on a visit to the university amid the demonstration, remarking at the time, “We have to bring order to these campuses. We cannot allow this to happen around the country. We are better than this.”

On Tuesday, Johnson revealed he called on President Biden to make his own visit to the school as protests escalate. 


Gillibrand, Schumer’s New York counterpart who has been outspoken in her support for Israel, also did not respond to Fox News Digital’s inquiry regarding any planned visits to Columbia or whether she supported “Squad Democrats” cheering on the protesters. 

“I am appalled at the virulent antisemitism being displayed on Columbia University’s campus,” Gillibrand said in a statement last week. “Threats of violence against Jewish students and the Jewish community are horrible, despicable and wholly unacceptable. Using the rhetoric of terrorists has no place in New York, where we pride ourselves on tolerance and the right of every group to practice their religion in peace.”

House Democrats, including several representing New York, have also made their concerns about the protests known. In a letter signed by 21 lawmakers and led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., the Democrats urged the university’s Board of Trustees to dismantle “the unauthorized and impermissible encampment of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish activists on campus,” telling them “time for negotiation is over.” 


Another New York Democrat, Rep. Ritchie Torres, a signatory of the letter, hasn’t visited the campus since the encampment began, but told Fox News Digital, “I have gone to Columbia University on several occasions — whether it is meeting with Jewish Students at Columbia Law School or joining students for Shabbat at the Columbia Chabad. I will continue to do so in the future.”

Rep. Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y., who recently took over the seat of expelled former Rep. George Santos, was also a signatory of the letter. He shared a series of posts to X last week, detailing his visit to Columbia during the protests.

“Yesterday I went to Columbia University to show my support for the Jewish students who have faced harassment, intimidation and vicious antisemitic attacks on campus,” he said in one post. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., denounced the visit of “a Member of Congress” to the encampment, “who accused some Jewish students of being, ‘pro-genocide.’” He was referencing Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who said on video last week, “I think it is really unfortunate that people don’t care about the fact that all Jewish kids should be kept safe, and that we should not have to tolerate antisemitism or bigotry for all Jewish students, whether they’re pro-genocide or anti-genocide.”

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