SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 28, 2018

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Columbia University

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 28, 2018, Elizabeth Midlarsky, a professor of psychology and education and Holocaust scholar at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, found her office vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Midlarsky, who is Jewish, has done significant research on psychological aspects of the Holocaust, including the characteristics that led certain individuals protect their Jewish neighbors, and the psychological legacy of the Holocaust among its survivors and their descendants. Around 1:30 pm on Wednesday, November 28, Midlarsky entered her office, with a group of students, to find swastikas and the word “Yid” spray-painted on the walls. She notified security, who have not identified a perpetrator as of this report.

Midlarsky was the target of anti-Semitic vandalism at least once previously, in a 2007 incident.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about targeted attacks intended to intimidate, threaten, or otherwise harm scholars, based on ethnic or religious identity, their areas of research, or some combination thereof. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents chill academic expression on campus, limit access, and threaten to erode diversity on campus, all of which damage academic freedom.