Barnard College Implements New Dorm Door Policy Amidst Israel-Hamas Conflict Controversy

New York, NY – In response to the tense climate at Barnard College following the Israel-Hamas war outbreak, the college has implemented a new policy prohibiting students from displaying messages on their dorm doors. This decision comes after some students at Barnard and Columbia University, which it is affiliated with, placed signs on their doors accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza and questioning its legitimacy as a state. In light of this, Jewish students filed a lawsuit against both schools, alleging a failure to protect them from antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The lawsuit emphasizes that anti-Zionism is an attack on Israel as a Jewish collective.

The email sent by Barnard officials notifying students of the new policy stated that it aims to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and safe. While decorations and fixtures on doors can facilitate communication among peers, the college recognizes that they may also isolate individuals with different views and beliefs. The policy went into effect on Wednesday at noon, and all messaging on doors will be removed by Thursday. However, exemptions will be made for religious and other objects. According to the email, students can still affix mezuzahs to their doorposts.

Columbia University and Barnard College have been at the center of explosive protests since the Hamas attack in October. The protests, organized by groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, have led to the suspension of these organizations’ chapters by Columbia University. The New York Civil Liberties Union, along with the student groups, argues that the suspension violates the members’ speech rights.

While some students have criticized the new door policy as an infringement on free speech, others support it, recognizing the potential harm caused by polarization. Freshman Talia Spitz expressed her understanding of the need to balance freedom of speech and the well-being of students. Attorney Marc Kasowitz, representing some of the students who filed the antisemitism lawsuit, believes that the new policy fails to address the “systemic” antisemitism present on campus.

Barnard College has long been a popular choice for Jewish students, accepting only those who identify as women. According to Hillel, a national college Jewish organization, 28% of the college’s 3,000 students are Jewish. Additionally, Barnard runs joint degree programs with the Jewish Theological Seminary, a prominent training school for rabbis in the Conservative stream of Judaism.

In conclusion, Barnard College’s decision to prohibit messages on dorm doors aims to create a more inclusive and safe environment. While some students have voiced their concerns about limitations on free speech, others recognize the potential harm caused by polarization. The tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war and the issue of antisemitism on campus remain ongoing. Barnard College, with its large Jewish student population, continues to grapple with these complex challenges.