HomeForeignColumbia Varsity Suspends Stubborn Pro-Gaza Protesting Students

Columbia Varsity Suspends Stubborn Pro-Gaza Protesting Students

New York City’s Columbia University has begun suspending students involved in a pro-Palestinian protest on campus after they defied a deadline to disperse.

College leaders earlier warned those who failed to disband from the two-week encampment by 14:00 EST (18:00 GMT) on Monday would face disciplinary action.

But as the deadline passed, dozens of students rallied at the site.

In Texas, police arrested dozens of protesters and dismantled their camp at the University of Texas at Austin.

Officials there said protesters had ignored directions to take down their tents.

The college said in a statement that “baseball-size rocks” had been found in the encampment and the “majority of protesters are believed to be unaffiliated with the university”.

A lawyer who has worked with the protesters, George Lobb, told local media outlet KUT News that about 50 arrests had been made on Monday at the Austin campus. The BBC has contacted the university and local police for comment.

Similar demonstrations have taken place across the US since police cleared another camp at Columbia this month.

Pressure on the leadership of Columbia, an elite Ivy League university in Upper Manhattan, has been building to act or step aside.

“What continues to transpire at Columbia is an utter disgrace,” US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “The campus is being overrun by antisemitic students and faculty alike.”

The Louisiana Republican again called for the university’s president, Nemat Shafik, to step down.

Earlier on Monday, a group of House Democrats urged Columbia’s board of trustees to resign if it would not “act decisively, disband the encampment, and ensure the safety and security of all of its students”.

“For the past week, this encampment has been the breeding ground for antisemitic attacks on Jewish students,” the 21 lawmakers wrote. “The time for negotiation is over; the time for action is now.”

Annual tuition and fees for Columbia add up to around $90,000 (£72,000) for undergraduates, making it one of the most expensive universities in the US.

Its campus has become the focal point of the country’s debate over the war in Gaza and US support for Israel, as well as fears that antisemitism is putting Jewish students in danger.

The White House is walking an increasingly fine line over the campus protests, seeking to balance the right to peaceful protest with condemnation of hateful speech.

“It is a painful moment, we get that,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Declining to say how university leadership should act, she added: “Free expression has to be done within the law.”

BBC

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