Home World News Disperse Or Face Suspension, Columbia University Warns Pro-Palestinian Protestors

Disperse Or Face Suspension, Columbia University Warns Pro-Palestinian Protestors

But a mid-afternoon deadline set by the university for an end to the demonstration passed without any visible action immediately taken by Columbia's administrators or police.
Columbia University
A video grab from social media shows pro-Palestinian students protesting at Columbia University on Monday

NEW YORK: Columbia University’s president said on Monday that talks with pro-Palestinian activists over a protest encampment on the Ivy League campus in New York City had reached an impasse and urged demonstrators to voluntarily disperse or face suspension.

But a mid-afternoon deadline set by the university for an end to the demonstration passed without any visible action immediately taken by Columbia’s administrators or police.

University President Nemat Minouch Shafik said days of negotiations between student organizers and academic leaders had failed to persuade demonstrators to dismantle the dozens of protests they set up to express opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

In a statement, Shafik said Columbia would not divest assets that support Israel’s military, a key demand of the protesters. Instead, he offered to invest in health and education in Gaza and to make Columbia’s direct investment holdings more transparent.

Protesters have vowed to keep their encampment on the Manhattan campus until Columbia meets three demands: divestment, transparency in Columbia’s finances and amnesty for students and faculty disciplined for their part in the protests.

The university sent protesters a letter on Monday morning warning that students who did not vacate the encampment by 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) and sign a form acknowledging their participation would face suspension and become ineligible to complete the semester in good standing.

Even students who signed the form and dispersed on Monday would still go on “disciplinary probation” until June 2025 or their graduation, whichever came first, according to the letter.
“These repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians. We will not move until Columbia meets our demands or we are moved by force,” the Columbia Student Apartheid Divest coalition said in a joint response.

Shafik faced an outcry from many students, faculty and outside observers for summoning New York City police two weeks ago to dismantle the encampment, resulting in more than 100 arrests.

Efforts to remove the encampment, which students restored on a hedge-lined lawn of the university grounds within days of the April 18 police action, have triggered dozens of similar protests at college campuses from California to Boston.

Last week, Columbia took no action when two deadlines it had imposed on protesters to reach an agreement slipped by without a deal. It had cited progress in the talks.

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Protests at Columbia and other U.S. universities continued in full force through the weekend, with more arrests around the country and skirmishes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the University of California, Los Angeles, on Sunday.

UCLA on Monday stepped up security around a pro-Palestinian encampment, consisting of more than 50 tents surrounded by metal fencing near the main administration building on campus.
An adjacent gathering of counter-demonstrators set up a giant video screen showing a loop of footage from the October 7 cross-border attack by Hamas militants into southern Israel, with loudspeakers blaring audio from the recording.

Civil rights groups have criticized law enforcement tactics on some campuses, such as Atlanta’s Emory University and the University of Texas at Austin, where police in riot gear and on horseback moved against protesters last week, taking dozens into custody before charges were dropped for lack of probable cause.
Protests, and arrests, flared anew on the Austin campus on Monday.

Virginia Tech said on Monday that 91 protesters arrested on Sunday night at a student-led encampment had been charged with trespassing. Video posted on social media showed demonstrators chanting, “Shame on you” as some were taken into custody.

The university said in a statement that the “situation” posed by the encampment “had the increasing potential to become unsafe.”

Similar demonstrations have sprung up at universities in other countries. Students at McGill University in Montreal set up about 20 pro-Palestinian protest camps on Saturday demanding the university divest from companies with links to Israel.

By Monday, the number of encampments on the downtown campus had tripled, but many were not set up by members of the McGill community, according to a statement by the university. McGill also said it was investigating what it said was video evidence of some people using “unequivocally antisemitic language and intimidating behavior.” Students denied the allegation.

In Paris, days after protests at the elite Sciences Po school, police evacuated dozens of protesters who had set up tents in the yard of the Sorbonne University on Monday to mark their anger with the war in Gaza, one of the students told Reuters.

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In a career spanning over three decades and counting, I’ve been the Foreign Editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and The New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com.

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