Rick Scott threatens federal defunding of Columbia University
Rick Scott. Image via AP.

rick scott
The school has an endowment worth upwards of $13B, but can't ensure security for Jewish students.

Anti-Israel protests in the Ivy League continue to raise the ire of U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.

In a letter to the Board of Columbia University, Florida’s junior Senator insists that they clamp down on protests that have made Jewish students feel threatened on campus, or run the risk of forfeiting federal funding if they don’t take “immediate action needed to bring safety, security and peace back” to campus.

Scott wrote that the Board “must use the power of your position to demand action from the administration, or remove the current leadership and put in place an administration that will ensure the safety of your students.”

“If you fail to do this, Congress will act. We will not sit silently while American students are threatened by terrorist sympathizers that call for the eradication of Jewish people and the destruction of Israel. This is not free speech, it is violence,” Scott added.

Protesters at Columbia have delivered some of the most pitched protest actions, with calls to Jewish students to “go back to Poland” in what is a clear attempt to invoke the horrors of the Holocaust, which led to the systematic killing of 90% of Poland’s once-vibrant Jewish population.

It is not likely that the current response from Columbia will mollify Scott.

“Over the past days, there have been too many examples of intimidating and harassing behavior on our campus. Antisemitic language, like any other language that is used to hurt and frighten people, is unacceptable and appropriate action will be taken,” wrote President Minouche Shafik.

Shafik added that the university was moving to hybrid classes in lieu of mandatory in-person instruction, given the security issues on campus at the institution where a year’s attendance costs upwards of $66,000 a year.

Shafik contended that “tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas.”

Scott is sponsoring theStop Antisemitism on College Campuses Act,which “rescinds federal education funding for colleges and universities that support, authorize, or facilitate events that promote antisemitism.”

A severance of federal funding would have a limited effect on the New York City school’s very healthy endowment.

“For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, the total value of the endowment was $13.64 billion. Columbia University produced a return of 4.7% on the managed assets in its endowment portfolio for FY23,” the school notes.

A relatively modest $632 million was spent “in support of students, faculty, and University activities” from that kitty in the same period, which is just over 5%, marginally more than the return on institutional investments.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Dont Say FLA

    April 23, 2024 at 2:49 pm

    Does Rick Scott ever do or say anything with any real relevance? As reported, he seems not to. Both he and Little Marco just whine whine whine. Each state gets two senators, but Florida effectively has zero.

    • just a guy

      May 2, 2024 at 8:34 am

      Isn’t Columbia privately funded?

  • Nothing New

    April 23, 2024 at 3:16 pm

    This is not new. I was in grad school at an ivy when 9/11 happened. The next night there was a campus-wide candlelight vigil that devolved into a full blown anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian rally where the students were making hate speeches and chanting against Israel for causing 9/11. The school supported it and did not interfere. My naive self was shocked and found the culture toxic and I left the university after that. But in no way did I think the US government had any business interfering in what was the Uni’s business to handle things as they saw fit. I was free to leave and I did. What Scott and others have suggested in taking over academia is equally repugnant to me. I really don’t care if they defund Columbia, (that is also nothing new), but it would be self defeating in the long run. Most of those protesters are young and don’t see the full complexity of the situation yet and have no context to do so. I do wish the schools would take things more in hand and educate them instead of things devolving into us-vs-them extreme which is just so destructive and not at all the calibre of thinking we would expect from the highest institutions.

  • MH/Duuuval

    April 23, 2024 at 8:04 pm

    I trust 9/11 = Oct. 7, metaphorically speaking.

    Why not name the Ivy?

  • My Take

    April 24, 2024 at 6:06 am

    They blamed Israel.
    Cheney blamed Iraq.
    Both were dead wrong ( emphasis on “dead”).
    They made noise.
    Cheney made war.
    Where was the real problem?

  • Ron Forrest Ron

    April 24, 2024 at 3:49 pm

    Rick cares about student safety now? And it’s some college students up in New York City? What?

    Did I miss something? Are Florida’s school children all safe now? No more kids are going to be shot in Florida’s schools ever again?

    What is really going on here, Rick?

  • TallyPatriot

    April 29, 2024 at 11:17 am

    Watch as the GOP shows us everyday how much they hate the 1st amendment

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704