Columbia University begins suspending students after warning to clear out of protest camp — DGU

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Columbia University Apartheid Divest, the coalition organizing the encampment protest, said in a statement Monday: “These repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians. We will not move until Columbia meets our demands or we are moved by force.”

The group criticized the university’s “threat to mass suspend, evict and possibly expel students” with just hours’ notice as a violation of the school’s rules.

The group also condemned paper notices the university issued at the encampment as “reminiscent of the flyers the Israeli army launched from the sky to Gazans.”

Image: Columbia University Issues Deadline For Gaza Encampment To Vacate Campus
Demonstrators on Columbia University’s campus picket around the encampment to support those inside threatened with suspension if they remained on campus at 2 p.m. Monday.Alex Kent / Getty Images

At a Columbia rally by the coalition around 2 p.m., student organizer Sueda Polat said: “The university has conducted itself with obstinacy and arrogance, refusing to be flexible on some of our most basic points.”

“We were engaging in good faith negotiations until the administration cut them off under threat of suspensions. Where we asked for amnesty, they gave us more discipline,” Polat said.

Protest organizers also criticized Shafik’s claim that the university had “constructive dialogue” with protesters, noting Columbia refused to give a commitment that student divestment proposals would be binding, and they described Shafik’s offering of childhood education programs for Palestinians as “nothing more than bribery of the student movement.”

Unrest and protests continue at colleges around the country. Police at the University of Texas at Austin on Monday made arrests and dismantled an encampment set up to protest the war in Gaza, university officials said. There were also arrests at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Hundreds of protesters marched through the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, NBC affiliate KOMU of Columbia reported, but no arrests were reported.

Northwestern University in Illinois said it reached an agreement with demonstrators that will bring an end to tents on Deering Meadow, and the Anti-Defamation League for the Midwest criticized that deal as rewarding bad behavior and it accused the encampment of being a “platform for antisemitism.”

Shuman, the Columbia protester previously suspended, said it’s hard having Palestinian roots but unable to change the situation.

“My whole life, I feel like growing up as a Palestinian in America you’re always living with this — whether you know it or not — it’s just survivor’s guilt,” Shuman said.

“I’m over here, but not able to, like, actually do something,” he said.

CORRECTION (April 29, 2024, 8:10 pm ET): A previous version of this article misidentified a suspended student. He is Fadi Shuman, not Schuman, and he is an undergraduate student, not a graduate student.

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