Columbia University protesters given midnight deadline to end stir or president to consider 'alternative options' - Hindustan Times
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Columbia University protesters given midnight deadline to end stir or president to consider 'alternative options'

Apr 24, 2024 11:23 AM IST

Columbia University President asks protesters to clear encampment or she may be forced to consider 'alternate options'

Columbia University students involved in a pro-Palestinian encampment have been given a deadline until Tuesday midnight to resolve negotiations with the university, as reported by CNN. Columbia President Minouche Shafik stated that if no agreement was reached by midnight, the university would explore ‘alternative options’.

Students prepare to camp overnight as they continue to protest on Columbia University campus in support of Palestinians, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 23, 2024, REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs(REUTERS)
Students prepare to camp overnight as they continue to protest on Columbia University campus in support of Palestinians, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 23, 2024, REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs(REUTERS)

While talks were ongoing, concerns arose among donors and lawmakers who advocated for police intervention to clear the encampment. This suggestion drew criticism, especially considering the university's recent decision to involve the New York Police Department in dispersing another student encampment.

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What's happening at Columbia University campus?

Over a 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators have camped out at Columbia have been arrested, with dozens more people arrested at other campuses

Despite the pressure, as of 12:10 a.m. ET (Tuesday), Columbia University had not requested assistance from the NYPD to address the encampment. Meanwhile, the number of tents on campus had swelled to over 80, with hundreds of people gathered in and around the encampment.

Amidst growing chants of against Israel's action in Gaza many jew students have reported antisemitic chants and messages at and around the Columbia campus. Some Jewish students say they’ve felt unsafe on campus. The White House, in a message Sunday to mark the Passover holiday, denounced what it called an “alarming surge” of antisemitism, saying it "has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country."

What are Columbia University students demanding?

The protesters are demanding that their universities condemn Israel’s assault on Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and divest from companies that do business with Israel.

Also Read: Columbia University cancels offline classes till end of semester

The prolonged protests and gatherings outside the university gates have heightened safety worries, particularly among Jewish students celebrating the Passover holiday. While acknowledging the importance of free speech and peaceful protests, President Shafik expressed concerns about the encampment's impact on campus safety and community harmony.

White House and House Speaker have expressed concern

As tensions escalate, elected officials, including House Speaker Mike Johnson and Mayor Eric Adams, have weighed in on the situation. Johnson plans to visit Jewish students at Columbia University to address rising anti-semitism concerns, while Mayor Adams identified "outside agitators" contributing to disruptions at peaceful protests.

The Columbia University encampment is part of a broader trend seen across campuses nationwide, with similar protests and encampments emerging in solidarity with Gaza. Students at various universities, including Yale, Harvard, and MIT, have staged protests and encampments, calling for divestment from Israel-related investments and transparency in university finances.

The protests at Columbia University continue as students demand complete divestment from Israel-related investments, financial transparency, and amnesty from disciplinary actions. While university officials have warned about violating school rules, some students feel compelled to express their activism despite safety concerns.

The prolonged protests have garnered national attention, with lawmakers and the White House weighing in on the situation. While supporting the right to peaceful protest, officials have denounced violence and antisemitic rhetoric, emphasizing the need to address issues of hatred and discrimination collectively as Americans.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vertika Kanaujia is Editor Audience Growth at Hindustan Times and oversees the website’s coverage of business news, health, technology and internet culture. She is a Chevening Scholar and a Columbia Journalism University Fellow. Vertika has been a journalist for more than 18 years. After starting her career as a business journalist in TV she has worked with various leading news channels. You can email her at vertika.kanaujia@htdigital.in.

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