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College campuses engulfed by tensions over pro-Palestinian protests

Last week, the New York Police Department arrested more than 100 people on Columbia's campus at the request of the university's administration.
College campuses engulfed by tensions over pro-Palestinian protests
Posted at 5:17 PM, Apr 22, 2024

Ten Republican members of Congress, all representing New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote a letter on Monday asking Columbia University's president to resign, saying, "anarchy had engulfed the campus."

It came on the same day that four Democratic Jewish members of Congress walked through the university's campus, as tensions there remain high.

A makeshift tent city now stands within the main quad at Columbia University, where pro-Palestinian student protesters are literally holding their ground.

Last week, the New York Police Department arrested more than 100 people on Columbia's campus at the request of the university's administration.

On Monday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul visited the campus.

"I've never seen a level of protest that is so person-to-person," said Gov. Hochul. "People need to find their humanity, have the conversations, talk to each other, understand different points of view because that's what college students should be doing."

In a Monday news conference, the NYPD said that so far there are no reports of any physical harm, though they say some Jewish students have reported harassment.

"We have received reports that students have been, Israeli students, were walking on campus, had their flags taken away from them, snatched out of their hands," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry. "We also received reports that the Israeli students, there were some hateful things that were said towards them."

The Ivy League institution made the decision that all classes would go virtual on Monday.

All of it comes after Columbia University President Minouche Shafik testified before a House hearing on Capitol Hill last week, focusing on antisemitism on campus.

"Trying to reconcile the free speech rights of those who wanted to protest and the rights of Jewish students to be in an environment free of discrimination and harassment has been the central challenge on our campus and numerous others across the country," Shafik said. 

That includes new protests springing up on Monday on the campuses of New York University and Yale, where 50 people were arrested that morning.

Harvard is temporarily closing the university's famed 25-acre Harvard Yard this week and prohibiting anyone from setting up tents there.

In the meantime, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots football team is an alum of Columbia University and is one of the school's biggest donors: The Jewish student center bears his name. He said in a statement released through his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism that he'll be withholding donations until, "corrective action is taken."

Editor's note: In the interest of transparency, Scripps News Correspondent Maya Rodriguez is an alumna of Columbia University.

SEE MORE: Columbia University goes virtual amid pro-Palestinian protests

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