Columbia University Shifts Classes Online After Pro-Palestinian Protest Takes Over Campus

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Columbia University President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik ordered classes to be held virtually on Monday following an unauthorized pro-Palestinian encampment on campus late last week, calling for a “reset.”

New York Police Department (NYPD) officers arrested, at the direction of Shafik, over 100 protestors on Thursday who camped in tents across the Ivy League’s South Lawn of Morningside campus. The president announced in a statement early Monday that classes would be held online to “deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps” as the pro-Palestinian protest enters its sixth day. (RELATED: Video Shows Police Clearing Pro-Palestinian Tent City At Columbia University)

“I am deeply saddened by what is happening on our campus,” Shafik wrote. “Our bonds as a community have been severely tested in ways that will take a great deal of time and effort to reaffirm. Students across an array of communities have conveyed fears for their safety and we have announced additional actions we are taking to address security concerns. The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days. These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas. We need a reset.”

Shafik added that a coalition of deans, administration officials and faculty will be working toward bringing the “crisis to a resolution,” and she slammed antisemitism on campus.

“Over the past days, there have been too many examples of intimidating and harassing behavior on our campus,” said Shafik. “Antisemitic language, like any other language that is used to hurt and frighten people, is unacceptable and appropriate action will be taken. We urge those affected to report these incidents through university channels. We also want to remind everyone of the support available for anyone adversely affected by current events.”

The president testified before the House Committee on Education Wednesday, where she faced questions from Republican lawmakers over her handling of campus antisemitism following the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik called on Shafik to resign Sunday, arguing that the university should have a president “who will protect Jewish students and enforce school policies.”

“Over the past few months and especially the last 24 hours, Columbia’s leadership has clearly lost control of its campus putting Jewish students’ safety at risk,” Stefanik wrote. “It is crystal clear that Columbia University – previously a beacon of academic excellence founded by Alexander Hamilton – needs new leadership. President Shafik must immediately resign.”

University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Harvard University President Claudine Gay both stepped down following backlash to their congressional testimony over college antisemitism.

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