Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
Custodians’ union to sue Columbia, says didn’t protect staff from ‘bratty,’ ‘privileged’ protesters

School ‘showed an epic disregard’ for employees, union leader alleges

Columbia University should expect a lawsuit soon from the union representing custodians who were inside a campus building when pro-Palestinian protesters broke in, a union representative said this week.

TWU International President John Samuelsen told Fox News the New York school failed to protect its staff when protesters took over Hamilton Hall earlier this month.

“Columbia should have never put the custodians or the security officer in that position and that is at the heart of the matter,” Samuelsen said. “Columbia showed an epic disregard and epically failed to protect the workforce.”

Police arrested more than 100 protesters after they took over Hamilton Hall, smashing windows, breaking through doors, and barricading themselves inside, while others refused to leave the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on a nearby lawn, the Columbia Spectator reported.

Samuelsen said a few protesters “tried to hold our workers in the building” during the occupation.

“The entire TWU workforce in the building was fearful and rightfully so,” he told Fox News. “They stormed in … but two of the custodians had to fight their way out. They were explicitly told ‘You’re staying here, you’re not going anywhere, this cause is bigger than you.'”

Samuelsen described the protesters as “smarmy, sort of entitled, spoiled, bratty occupiers” who tried to keep blue-collar workers from going home to their families.

“It’s outrageous, it’s an affront to workers everywhere,” he said, adding the university should expect a lawsuit from the union soon.

Union leaders also wrote a letter to university President Minouche Shafik asking for more information about the events of the day, including security footage and the names of the protesters who were arrested, according to the report.

In the letter, Samuelsen asked for a meeting with Shafik “regarding mitigation steps necessary to avoid future placement of members in harm’s way if the protests resume, and recompense to the TWU members who were subjected to this despicable conduct.”

“The TWU Security Officer, an African-American woman, managed to leave the building before the barricades went up,” he wrote. “But she remains shaken by her encounter with the occupying protesters (aka privileged kids) who verbally attacked her in a very aggressive and extremely offensive manner.”

Columbia also is facing a lawsuit from a Jewish student who alleges the university has failed to take action against calls for the “genocide of Jews” and other antisemitism, The Hill reports.

Other universities are facing similar lawsuits from Jewish students alleging continued failures to protect their safety, including the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, and New York University.

Recently, Columbia canceled its university-wide commencement ceremony in response to the anti-Israel protests. Instead, the university says it will focus on providing increased security for smaller Class Days and individual school graduation ceremonies.

MORE: Princeton belly dancers condemn Israel’s ‘intentional genocide’

IMAGE: Palestine SWG/Instagram

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.

About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.