Columbia Begins Suspending Protesters

University had given pro-Palestinian demonstrators a 2pm deadline to abandon encampment
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2024 12:38 PM CDT
Updated Apr 29, 2024 7:20 PM CDT
Columbia Students Face 2pm Deadline
Columbia University faculty and staff gather on the campus in solidarity with student protesters who are demonstrating against the university's investments in Israel, Monday, April 29, 2024, in New York.   (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

This story has been updated with new developments. Columbia University announced Monday evening that it has begun suspending students who defied a 2pm deadline to clear out of a pro-Palestinian encampment on the New York campus. The protesters, along with hundreds of their supporters, began to leave by 4pm, the New York Times reports; the university had not called in police. Several dozen students and about 80 of the original 120 tents in the Manhattan encampment remained, with a dozen faculty members outside—a few of whom said they would stay overnight to safeguard the students' right to protest. A small number of counter-demonstrators waved Israeli flags, per the AP, with one holding a sign reading, "Where are the anti-Hamas chants?"

  • The university said the pro-Palestinian protesters in the encampment will be required to sign a form committing to following university policies until June 30, 2025, Axios reports. Those who don't comply will face sanctions including "probation, access restriction, suspension for a term or more and expulsion," the university said.

  • A notice from administrators urged protesters to leave so that the central lawn on campus could be prepared for graduation ceremonies on May 15, per the Times. "The current unauthorized encampment and disruption on Columbia University's campus is creating an unwelcoming environment for members of our community," it said. "Please promptly gather your belongings and leave the encampment."
  • Columbia President Minouche Shafik said that academic leaders and protest organizers had been unable to reach an agreement and talks had stalled, the Hill reports. She said the university would not divest from Israel—one of protesters' key demands—but has offered to "develop an expedited timeline for review of new proposals." Shafik said Columbia has also offered to invest in health and education in Gaza.
  • The Times reports that at around noon, lead student coalition negotiator Mahmoud Khalil told students in the encampment: "We shouldn't stop here because the people in Gaza are under bombs, and here we are under disciplinary charges." In a show of hands, students voted "overwhelmingly" to defy the deadline, the Times reports.
(More Columbia University stories.)

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