Hillary Clinton's Columbia Lecture Takes Sharp Turn With Student Walkout

Hillary Clinton's lecture at Columbia University was at the center of student protests. 

Back in October, a virtual billboard truck descended upon the New York-based, campus doxing students and faculty who signed a statement supporting Palestine amid the ongoing Israel and Hamas conflict. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, doxing is the act of identifying or publishing private information, like someone's real name or address, to cause harm, punishment, or revenge. Hired by the conservative non-profit organization Accuracy in Media, the truck displayed the names and photos of the individuals on its various screens, while accusing them of being "Columbia's Leading Antisemites," per the New York Post.

Before its arrival on Columbia's campus, similar trucks were seen at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, targeting select individuals who also expressed support for Palestine. In a statement, Columbia University president Minouche Shafik acknowledged the rise of such doxing cases. "Some students, including at Columbia, have been victims of doxing. This form of online harassment, involving the public posting of names and personal information, has been used by extremists to target communities and individuals," she explained. Shafik also encouraged individuals who have been targeted to report their experiences to the school authorities. "This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated," she added. 

While the school's president condemned the act of doxing, some students have expressed concern over the lack of protection of the singled-out students, which resulted in a recent walkout during Clinton's global affairs lecture.

Students walk out of Hillary Clinton's class to protest doxing

On November 1, Hillary Clinton and the dean of Columbia University's School of International Public Affairs, Keren Yarhi-Milo, hosted their two-hour lecture regarding the history of women and peace processes. While the class started smoothly, things took a drastic turn when 30 students abruptly left the classroom. According to The New York Times, the move was part of a planned walkout that was meant to call out the university's reaction to the doxing trucks found on campus. Some of the students, who gathered in the lobby of the International Affairs building, revealed to the news outlet that the photos used on the trucks were taken from a private and secure platform. They also called on Columbia to provide legal support for the victims of the doxing incident and to display a more substantial commitment to student safety and privacy.

While Clinton refrained from making a statement on the incident, Yarhi-Milo spoke to the student protesters and showcased support for their cause, according to The Columbia Spectator. "I know this is an extremely difficult time for a lot of us, I know that many of you do not feel safe, do not feel supported. I am here with you," she said. A day before the walkout, Yahri-Milo released a statement announcing the SIPA Task Force on Doxing and Student Safety to combat the invasive practice. "[The task force] will play a critical role in making recommendations to the university and local government to protect our students," she explained.

Hillary Clinton just joined the Columbia University faculty

At the start of 2023, Columbia University announced Hillary Clinton would joining its staff as a professor of practice for the School of International and Public Affairs and presidential fellow at Columbia World Projects, per NPR. "Given her extraordinary talents and capacities, together with her singular life experiences, Hillary Clinton is unique, and, most importantly, exceptional in what she can bring to the University's missions of research and teaching, along with public service and engagement for the public good," former Columbia president Lee C. Bollinger said in a statement.

 Months after announcing her return to the classroom, the former Secretary of State launched her class "In the Situation Room," which was the lecture students walked out of on November 1. "We want to address the issues, from climate change to war, that are directly affecting women and girls — which we saw during COVID, and we're still struggling with the after effects," Clinton explained to Glamour in October.

She went on to tell the publication that the point of the course is to examine the everyday issues women face on a global stage."If you're talking about global economic growth and dealing with inequity, women have to be at the table," she continued. "We want to tackle these everyday issues but on a global stage. From the very beginning, they're going to be a part of what we look at, work on, and certainly try to raise visibility on." Per The Guardian, there are around 300 students who attend Clinton's class.