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Photo Credit: The Hill

Columbia University employs remote learning amid pro-Palestine protests

Columbia University in New York City made the decision to shift to remote learning on Monday as demonstrations in support of Palestine continued for the sixth consecutive day on campus.

President Minouche Shafik announced the move to virtual classes, stating it was aimed at reducing tensions and providing time for reflection on the situation. Initially proposed as an optional measure, remote learning was later made mandatory for all students.

However, the decision has faced criticism from some students and faculty members. Professor Shai Davidai, a Jewish Israeli, expressed his frustration, arguing that denying him access to campus violated his rights.

Law enforcement observed the resurgence of a tent encampment on the university grounds, following a previous encampment that led to over 100 arrests when the NYPD intervened.

At a press briefing, NYPD officials clarified their role, emphasizing that the campus is private property, and police involvement is limited unless specifically requested. Enhanced security measures, including barricades and increased patrols, were implemented around the campus.

Columbia President Shafik expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue to resolve tensions, appointing a group of deans and administrators to facilitate discussions in the coming days.

Meanwhile, city and state officials condemned anti-Jewish rhetoric amid concerns for the safety of Jewish students, particularly with Passover approaching. Mayor Eric Adams emphasized the city’s commitment to maintaining a safe environment for all students.

Governor Kathy Hochul visited the campus to meet with university leadership and students affected by the demonstrations. She acknowledged the fear among students and stressed the importance of creating a discrimination-free environment on campus.

The protests, which began last Wednesday, coincide with a broader national debate on antisemitism on college campuses. The White House and other officials have denounced antisemitic sentiments, emphasizing the right to peaceful protest while condemning calls for violence.

The situation at Columbia has drawn national attention, with figures like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Rep. Elise Stefanik calling for action and accountability from university leadership.

Jewish students have expressed concerns for their safety, prompting conflicting advice from religious leaders regarding whether they should remain on campus during the protests. Despite the challenges, students and supporters continue to advocate for their cause, both at Columbia and at other institutions across the country.


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