On Wednesday, Ms Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, took part in an event on the involvement of women in peace processes alongside the dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Keren Yarhi-Milo.
Halfway through the lecture, about 30 students took part in a pre-planned walkout, joining dozens of people protesting close to the lobby of the International Affairs building, according to The New York Times.
The protesters sat silently in a common area with many of them wearing face masks, protesting the public shaming of students after photos of a number of them appeared on a video screen on the side of a truck spotted close to the campus last week with the caption “Columbia’s Leading Antisemites”.
The students whose images were used on the truck were part of groups that had signed a statement regarding the attack on 7 October by Hamas, a group labelled as a terror organisation by the US and the EU, which led to the deaths of 1,400 people in Israel.
More than 8,500 people have died in Gaza following Israeli counterattacks.
“The weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government,” part of the statement said.
When the lecture was coming to an end at about 4pm, the protesters shushed each other and remained quiet as they waited for Ms Clinton and Dr Yarhi-Malo to pass, which never happened as the Dean accompanied Ms Clinton out a separate exit before returning to speak to her students.
The Wednesday protest came after the international affairs school announced a new policy on doxing (the sharing of identifying information about an individual online) and student safety on Tuesday.
“I am deeply disturbed to see that SIPA students and faculty have been subjected to doxing campaigns,” Dr Yarhi-Malo wrote in a statement. “I unequivocally condemn such actions and I’m doing everything in my power to bring these activities to an end on our campus and online.”
She announced the formation of a task force to deal with the issue, saying that it “will play a critical role in making recommendations to the university and local government to protect our students”.
“Specifically, the Task Force will develop recommendations to prevent doxing, protect the identities and personal information of our students, and develop proposals to reduce tensions among various students and student organizations regarding controversial national or international events that affect our community in New York City,” she added.
A spokesperson for SIPA told The Independent in a statement: “The University’s overriding priority is the safety and security of its students and community. The University and SIPA take this responsibility very seriously – and this includes speaking out against doxing, a dangerous form of intimidation, as unacceptable.”
“Many individuals, including students across several schools, have been subject to these attacks by third parties,” the spokesperson added. “This includes disturbing incidents in which trucks have circled the Columbia campus displaying and publicizing the names and photos of Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian students.”
“University leadership is focused and action is being taken,” the spokesperson said, noting that the task force had been launched.
The students pushed for “immediate legal support for affected students” and “a commitment to student safety, well-being and privacy,” according to The Times.
The protest was a way to show solidarity with students who had been doxed and took place across all classes at the school scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.