Columbia Encampment Is Staying—for Now

Negotiations extended for 2 days after 'important progress' made
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2024 8:50 AM CDT
Columbia Encampment Is Staying—for Now
Columbia University professors speak in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024.   (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University gave student protesters until midnight Tuesday to agree to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus. Shortly after that deadline passed, student protesters said they abandoned negotiations when school officials threatened to unleash the National Guard. But around 3am, Columbia said negotiations had been extended for 48 hours after "important progress" was made, per CNN. Here's what's happening on the encampment's eighth day:

  • Progress: The university said protesters, demanding the university divest from Israel-linked financial interests, agreed to take down some tents, ensure anyone not enrolled at Columbia left the campus, follow fire safety rules, and prohibit all discriminatory and harassing language, per NBC News.

  • No police intervention: Columbia had threatened to explore "alternative options" to remove the encampment by the deadline. Overnight, "police officers lined nearby streets but remained off campus," per the New York Times. It now appears the prospect of police action has been delayed.
  • Hate speech vs. free speech: Donors and lawmakers continue to call on Columbia President Minouche Shafik to bring in police or the National Guard over alleged threats to Jewish students. Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik is demanding Columbia's federal funding be revoked, per Politico. Students and some faculty argue such moves would amount to attacks on free speech.
  • Mike Johnson: The House speaker will meet with Jewish students at Columbia on Wednesday. He'll also hold a press conference "regarding the troubling rise of virulent antisemitism on America's college campuses," his office said, per CNN.
  • On the other side: Isra Hirsi, daughter of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was among those arrested last week, argues there's "hypocrisy" here. She says pro-Palestinian protesters face "physical harm" on campus, including opponents spraying "chemical weapons," per Fox News.

  • President Biden: Biden is "of course, aware of the protests," Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates told reporters Wednesday, per CNN. He said it was "a painful moment for many communities ... and we support every American's right to peacefully protest."
  • Off campus: Outside Columbia, at least 209 people were arrested Tuesday night after pro-Palestinian Jewish groups rallied at New York's Grand Army Plaza, per NBC.
  • Planned protests: Various other campuses around the country—including the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Texas at Austin; and Johns Hopkins University—are to host pro-Palestinian protests on Wednesday, per Fox.
  • FBI: The FBI is coordinating with campuses to inform them of antisemitic threats and possible violence, Director Christopher Wray tells NBC.
(More Columbia University stories.)

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