Columbia Uni begins crackdown on pro-Palestinian protests, suspends demonstrating students amid stalemate - Hindustan Times
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Columbia Uni begins crackdown on pro-Palestinian protests, suspends demonstrating students amid stalemate

Apr 30, 2024 09:12 AM IST

Columbia University students dig in their heels, won't bow to pressure from authorities as crackdown begins

In a bid to crack down on a prolonged protest, Columbia University has taken a stern stand by suspending pro-Palestinian students who persisted with encampments on its New York City campus

Students at Columbia University continue to maintain a protest encampment in support of Palestinians and wrote a message at the entrance to camp responding to a letter issued to the protest encampment by university officials setting a 2pm deadline to disband or face suspension(REUTERS)
Students at Columbia University continue to maintain a protest encampment in support of Palestinians and wrote a message at the entrance to camp responding to a letter issued to the protest encampment by university officials setting a 2pm deadline to disband or face suspension(REUTERS)

After the university's President, Nemat Minouche Shafik, disclosed that negotiations between student organizers and academic leaders failed a deadline was set for the students. Those who failed to comply are now being suspended.

Columbia University begins suspending students

Columbia's ultimatum, delivered in a letter on Monday morning, stipulated that students must dismantle the encampment by 2 p.m. ET or face suspension, rendering them ineligible to complete the semester in good standing.

University spokesperson Ben Chang emphasized the necessity of this measure, citing the disruptive impact of the encampment on campus activities and its adverse effects on the university's Jewish students and faculty.

"We have begun suspending students as part of this next phase of our efforts to ensure safety on our campus," said Ben Chang, a university spokesperson, at a briefing on Monday evening.

The standoff at Columbia, coincided with police intervention at the University of Texas at Austin, where numerous students were arrested during a pro-Palestinian rally.

Columbia University takes a stand on Israel ties- won't divest

President Shafik, addressing key demands of the protesters, affirmed Columbia's decision not to divest from investments in Israel. Instead, she proposed investments in health and education in Gaza and pledged greater transparency in the university's financial holdings.

Columbia University students dig in their heels, won't bow

Meanwhile, student demonstrators remain resolute in their demands, which include divestment, financial transparency, and amnesty for those disciplined for participating in the protests. In response to the university's actions, leaders of the Columbia Student Apartheid Divest coalition reaffirmed their commitment to their cause, emphasizing the human toll of the conflict in Gaza.

Amid escalating tensions, pro-Palestinian demonstrations continue to spark debate on university campuses nationwide, raising questions about the boundaries of free speech and hate speech. The protests have underscored divisions within university communities, with some students alleging censorship and others expressing concerns about anti-Semitic rhetoric.

As campuses grapple with these challenges, civil rights groups have criticized law enforcement tactics employed during protests, including the use of pepper spray and arrests. Recent incidents at various universities, including Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech, highlight the ongoing clashes between protesters and authorities, underscoring the complexity of managing dissent and maintaining campus security in the face of polarizing issues.

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