Wednesday , May 22 2024

Columbia University President demands pro-Palestine rally organizers clear encampment by midnight as she issues warning to protestors ‘they will be put through disciplinary processes’

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik announced there is a midnight deadline for pro-Palestine protesters to reach an agreement and dismantle their encampment or she will have to consider ‘alternative options.’ 

The Ivy League saw its seventh day of protests on Tuesday as students stage a sit-in to demand the university divest from companies profiting from Israel’s war and sever academic ties with its universities.

The university president said a group of faculty, administrators and University Senators have been negotiating with the student organizers and set a midnight deadline to reach an agreement to dismantle the encampment.

‘I very much hope these discussions are successful. If they are not, we will have to consider alternative options for clearing the West Lawn,’ said Shafik. 

So far more than 100 activists have been arrested. The demonstration escalated again on Monday during the Jewish holiday of Passover when staff and students walked out in protest over the NYPD being called in to control protests.

‘The encampment raises serious safety concerns, disrupts campus life, and has created a tense and hostile environment for our community. It is essential that we move forward with a plan to dismantle it,’ Shafik said.

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‘I also want to be clear that we will not tolerate intimidating, harassing, or discriminatory behavior. We are working to identify protestors who violated our policies against discrimination and harassment, and they will be put through appropriate disciplinary processes.’ 

Shafik has been facing mounting calls to resign because she has ‘surrendered control to the anti-Semitic fringe’ and allowed ‘anarchy’ after she canceled all in-person classes until the end of the semester.

In the wake of that decision, Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat, tweeted that the president, who has only been in the role since the summer of 2023, had ‘surrendered control of Columbia to an antisemitic fringe.’

‘If you cannot ensure the safety of your students, then you have no business serving as President of any university… What Columbia University needs is not an appeaser of antisemitism but a leader who will fight with moral clarity against it,’ Torres added. 

As a result of the growing protests, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced his intention to pull his funding for the school. 

‘The school I love so much – the one that welcomed me and provided me with so much opportunity – is no longer an institution I recognize,’ Kraft said.

‘I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country.’

Protesters, many wearing keffiyeh headscarves and face masks, have led chants including ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ – which Jewish groups say is anti-Semitic – and called for intifada, which means uprising.

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