Updated April 30th, 2024 at 14:07 IST

Chaos in Campuses: Columbia University Begins Suspending Anti-Israel Protestors

These students will be prohibited from accessing campus housing or academic facilities.

Reported by: Sagar Kar
Columbia University. | Image:AP

Columbia University has initiated suspensions against certain student protestors who refused to vacate their pro-Palestinian encampment after the university's specified deadline, a move that further intensifies tensions on the campus.

The university administration, led by Columbia President Minouche Shafik, had issued a directive on Monday morning, instructing the protestors to dismantle their encampment by 2 p.m. Eastern Time or face disciplinary actions. Ben Chang, the vice president for communications at Columbia University, confirmed during a press briefing held at 5 p.m. ET that suspensions had commenced, leaving uncertain the fate of those involved.


How many students have been suspended?

Chang refrained from disclosing the exact number of students facing suspension but affirmed that they would be barred from completing the semester or participating in graduation ceremonies. Furthermore, these students will be prohibited from accessing campus housing or academic facilities.


The decision to dismantle the encampment stemmed partially from the university's desire to proceed with its commencement ceremony without disruptions. However, details regarding the graduation arrangements were not disclosed.

The backdrop to this development lies in the ongoing tensions surrounding demands from student protestors for divestment from companies with ties to Israel. Despite negotiations between academic leaders and student organizers, an agreement could not be reached. President Shafik clarified in an email to the campus community that while the university would not divest from Israel, it offered an expedited timeline for reviewing new proposals.


Sanctioned protests may still continue at Columbia 

Notably, sanctioned protests may still occur at Columbia post-reading days, final exams, and commencement. However, such protests must be authorized by the university and require a two-day notice.


The situation at Columbia reflects a broader trend seen across various universities nationwide. Encampments and sit-ins have proliferated, with incidents at Columbia triggering similar actions elsewhere, such as at the University of Southern California, which canceled its main commencement ceremony due to safety concerns.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Governor Greg Abbott declared a ban on encampments, opting for arrests instead. While tensions continue to simmer, the path toward resolution remains unclear as both sides hold firm on their respective positions.


Published April 30th, 2024 at 14:07 IST