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Columbia University extends remote learning amid Gaza war protests

  • By Brandon Drenon
  • BBC News

Video caption, See: Arrests and anger against pro-Palestinian demonstrations at an American university

Columbia University has extended remote classes at its main campus in New York for the remainder of the term, amid tense protests over the war in Gaza that have spread to U.S. universities across the country.

This hybrid learning comes as some students have reported anti-Semitic harassment on Columbia’s campus.

Some 133 people were arrested Monday during protests at New York University.

Dozens of arrests also took place at rallies at Yale, while Harvard restricted access to campus.

Protests against the war in Gaza also took place at universities in the US Midwest and on the West Coast, where one campus was closed.

Nine students were arrested Tuesday morning in Minneapolis while attempting to set up a protest camp outside a library on the University of Minnesota campus.

On Tuesday in New York, several hundred demonstrators gathered near the NYU campus in Washington Square Park.

The crowd chanted “shame, shame” and protesters criticized the New York City police and university administrators.

Police were called to NYU on Monday to break up protests after university officials warned hundreds of demonstrators to leave.

University leaders accused the group of breaking through school barricades and said they were behaving in a “disorderly, disruptive and antagonistic manner.”

NYU officials also suggested that protesters with no connection to the university had come.

Dylan, an NYU student who declined to give his last name to the BBC, said NYU administrators were “trying to flip the script and say this was a disruptive, antagonistic protest.”

“We were chanting. We were singing. We were drumming. If that represents violence, I don’t know on what basis NYU reasons.”

At Columbia, officials said Tuesday that an ongoing protest encampment on university grounds — also in Manhattan — was violating the rules.

“Columbia students have the right to protest, but they are not allowed to disrupt campus life or harass and intimidate fellow students and members of our community,” the Columbia spokesperson told reporters. university, Ben Chang, without giving details of the disciplinary measures.

On Monday evening, Columbia Dean Angela Olinto announced that students would have the option to take classes remotely at the Ivy League institution’s main Morningside campus until the last day of classes on the 29th. april.

“Safety is our top priority,” she said in an email.

Jewish students have expressed concern about anti-Semitism on and around Columbia’s campus.

On Monday, President Joe Biden said he condemned both “anti-Semitic protests” as well as “those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.”

Legend, Part of an encampment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A student filed a hate crime complaint with New York police on Monday, claiming he was hit in the head with a rock while carrying an Israeli flag, the New York Post reported.

Shai Davidai, a Columbia University professor who has been outspoken in his support for Israel, said he had been banned from campus and had his ID card “deactivated.”

Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine said they “strongly reject any form of hatred or bigotry” and disavow “inflammatory individuals who do not represent us.”

Columbia University President Nemat Shafik said tensions on campus had been “exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia and who came to campus to pursue their own agendas.”

Last week, Dr. Shafik defended his efforts to combat anti-Semitism on campus while testifying before a U.S. Congressional committee.

Also last week, New York police arrested more than 100 people during protests against the war in Gaza on Columbia’s campus, including the daughter of Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Legend, Students listen to a speaker during a protest at Emerson College

The campus unrest has posed a dilemma for higher education leaders as they try to balance the right to free speech with the need to maintain a safe and inclusive learning space.

Harvard University closed public access to the center of its campus until Friday, apparently in anticipation of similar student protests.

On the west coast of the United States, pro-Palestinian students set up “solidarity camps” on Monday at the University of California at Berkeley and at California State Polytechnic University in Humboldt.

Legend, Protesters near the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut

At Cal Poly, the campus was closed at least until Wednesday due to the “dangerous and unstable situation,” school officials said, which included students using tents and cots to block one buildings.

A similar encampment was set up at the University of Michigan.

Activists call on universities to “disengage from genocide”.

They accuse universities of using students’ tuition money to invest in companies supporting Israel’s war in Gaza.

Israel strongly denies any suggestion that it is committing genocide in the Palestinian enclave, although the International Court of Justice has said the accusation is “plausible”.

The war began when Hamas gunmen carried out an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and taking 253 others back to Gaza as hostages.

Since then, more than 34,180 people – mostly children and women – have been killed in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas.

With reporting by Rebecca Hartmann in New York

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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