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Columbia University Protests: Tensions, Online Teaching, and Demonstrations Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

Columbia University Protests

Protests continue, Columbia University cancels classroom teaching, and the atmosphere on campus is tense

New York: The ongoing Columbia University Protests over the conflict between Israel and Hamas have led to the switch to online teaching, arrests, and suspensions of students, and tensions between demonstrators and university administrators. The situation has sparked backlash, with accusations of discrimination and anti-Semitism, as well as calls for solidarity and support from various groups.

Protests and rallies in support of Palestine have spread to other universities, with US President Joe Biden condemning anti-Semitic actions and expressing support for Palestinians. The protests and demonstrations continue as classes at Columbia University are held in a hybrid format for the remainder of the spring semester.

Key Concepts

  • Columbia University switched to online teaching due to ongoing protests over the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
  • Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have spread to other universities, involving faculty and politicians.
  • Students were arrested and suspended for setting up a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on campus.
  • Tensions between university administrators and demonstrators have escalated, with a pro-Israel counter-protest being denied entry.
  • The situation has sparked complaints of anti-Semitism and calls for a professor’s dismissal.
  • Faculty members held a rally to support the suspended students at Columbia University.
  • Protests and rallies in support of Palestine have taken place at various universities.
  • US President Joe Biden condemned anti-Semitic protests and expressed support for Palestinians.
  • Similar arrests of protesting students have occurred at Yale University.
  • Classes at Columbia University’s main campus will be held in a hybrid format for the remainder of the spring semester.

As students protested for the sixth consecutive day over the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Columbia University switched to online teaching on Monday (April 22).

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President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik announced in an email to Columbia University faculty and students that classes will be taught online.

“The noise of our disagreements has only intensified in recent days,” Shafiq wrote. “These tensions are exploited and amplified by people with no ties to Columbia who come to our campus for their own purposes. We need a reset.”

On April 18, more than 100 students were arrested on campus after the principal approved police clearance. Some students also received suspension notices from their schools.

Columbia’s move sparked a wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations at other universities, with faculty and politicians responding.

Before the arrests, students calling themselves Columbia University Apartheid Divest set up dozens of tents on a lawn in the middle of the campus as a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” After police arrested students and demolished the initial encampment, another pro-Palestinian encampment was erected on the adjacent lawn.

Students are not the only demonstrators who are on campus and experiencing tensions with university administrators.

On Monday morning, the school refused to allow Shai Davidai, an assistant professor in the business school, to enter the school because he refused to abide by the school’s policy on counter-protests and attempted to hold a pro-Israel counter-protest on the occupied lawn.

After Columbia University Chief Operating Officer Cass Halloway stopped Davidai and his group of pro-Israel protesters at the school gate, Davidai said: “I am a professor here, and I have every right to go anywhere on campus. You can’t have people on campus supporting Hamas and I, a professor, can’t come on campus right now.”

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He has repeatedly called protesting students “violent lunatics” and “pro-Hamas terrorists.” A petition calling for Davide’s dismissal had nearly 9,000 signatures as of Thursday night, and other complaints have been made on social media and to the school.

Some Jewish students at Columbia University say much of the criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic and makes them feel unsafe.

Since the arrests, many student groups and Columbia-affiliated groups have issued statements condemning the university’s arrests, saying they were discriminatory enforcement of rules that restricted students’ freedom of expression.

Hundreds of faculty from across Columbia University and Barnard College held a rally and walkout on Monday to urge the universities to reverse the suspensions of protesting students. Some teachers wore graduation gowns and ribbons that said, “We support our students.”

The backlash from the protests even reached the ears of US President Joe Biden. Asked by reporters on Monday about recent events at Columbia, Biden said: “I condemn anti-Semitic protests. So I have established a program to address this issue. I also condemn those who do not understand what is happening to Palestinians. situation people.”

Other campuses, such as Yale, Stanford, and New York University, also saw rallies in support of the Palestinian cause. Participants called on their universities to divest from companies with ties to Israel and called for a ceasefire in Gaza. Many people have set up tent camps on their campuses. On Monday, about 50 students at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, were arrested after refusing to leave the encampment.

Protesting Columbia students urged organizers of rallies off campus and on other campuses not only to show solidarity with the protesters but also to “remember why we are protesting” and to pay attention to the war in Gaza.

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Columbia University announced Tuesday morning (April 23) that classes at its main campus in Morningside, where protests took place, will be held in a hybrid format for the remainder of the spring semester. The last day of classes for the spring semester is April 29.

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