Barnard College orders removal of dorm door decor to stop ‘isolating those who have different views’

Barnard College has mandated that students remove any and all decorations featuring messages from their dorm rooms as a way to avoid “isolating those who have different views and beliefs” — just days after it was hit with a lawsuit accusing it of allowing antisemitism to run rampant.

Students at the New York City campus have until Wednesday to remove dry-erase boards, decorations, or messaging affixed to their doors, according to a letter sent out on Friday by Barnard College Dean Leslie Grinage and obtained by The Post.

“While many decorations and fixtures on doors serve as a means of helpful communication amongst peers, we are also aware that some may have the unintended effect of isolating those who have different views and beliefs,” Grinage wrote.

“The goal is to be as clear as possible about the guardrails, and, meeting the current moment, do what we can to support and foster the respect, empathy and kindness that must guide all of our behavior on campus,” she added.

A student with Pro-Palestinian messages on their door called out Barnard College over its new policy to remove such decorations for dorm doors. @sjp.columbia / Instagram
The college’s trustees were named in a lawsuit claiming Barnard College and Columbia University allowed antisemitism to run rampant amid the Israel-Hamas war. AFP via Getty Images

The school did not state what repercussions students could face if they don’t adhere to the new policy, which was first reported by the Columbia Spectator school newspaper. Bernard had previously cracked down on two students who hung a Pro-Palestinian banner outside the quad in December, with a disciplinary proceeding underway.

Barnard officials did not immediately elaborate on specifics of the policy and if it was spurred by debates over the war in Gaza.

One Barnard junior blasted the rule for encompassing all decorations, not just political ones. 

“I can’t hang a f–king photo of my car because that might offend someone? Why does it have to be all or nothing?” the student said. “I can’t believe they’re being so draconian about this.”

A senior, who declined to give her name over fears that she could be canceled, however, agreed that the rule could serve as a way to avoid hostilities between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli students on campus. 

The student also suggested that the policy change was likely meant to help pro-Israeli students dealing with backlash over the war in Gaza. 

Several student doors are filled with Pro-Palestine stickers calling on the war in Gaza to end. @sjp.columbia / Instagram

“From what I observe, it’s a lot more comfortable to be openly pro-Palestine than pro-Israel at Barnard. No one would dare hang an Israeli flag on their door, and if they did, that flag would be gone in five minutes,” She said. 

“So if you’re for Palestine, you’re not dealing with much resistance here, whereas if you’re for Israel, you’re going to deal with a lot of hostility.” 

The embattled Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group has condemned the new decoration policy as a way for the school to censor students’ freedom of speech.

“This sets a dangerous precedent for the suppression of any academic political discourse in which it is acceptable to silence dissent using the excuse that it can upset someone with a differing view,” the group said in a statement Sunday.

Faculty in Columbia and Barnard claim Pro-Palestinian posters are being taken out of doors at the schools’ facilities. FSJP Columbia Barnard Teachers

“It is beyond absurd to send out a notice to Barnard students demanding we take down ‘decor’ from our own dorm doors that we are paying to live in,” the Columbia SJP added.

The sentiment was echoed by the schools’ Faculty SJP, which claimed that posters listing the names of Palestinian academics killed in Gaza have started to be taken down from doors across the Barnard campus.

The crackdown at the school comes as the trustees at both Columbia University and Barnard College were named in a lawsuit filed by Jewish Students last week claiming they allowed “rampant antisemitism” to thrive amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Barnard officials said the new policy was made to avoid “isolating those who have different views and beliefs,” and did not elaborate further. @barnardcollege / Instagram

The suit — filed by five students and two nonprofits — alleges that Columbia has not substantially intervened as Jewish hate intensified on campus over protests against the war.

“Since October 7, 2023, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and slaughtered, tortured, raped, burned, and mutilated 1,200 people — including infants, children, and the elderly — antisemitism at Columbia has been particularly severe and pervasive,” documents filed in Manhattan federal court states.

Last November, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into antisemitism or Islamophobia at three New York Schools — Columbia, Cornell and Cooper Union.