Columbia Issues Ultimatum To Student Protesters: Leave Or Face Suspension

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Columbia University issued a notice to student protesters Monday threatening to suspend them if they did not clear the encampment.

If the students do not clear the encampment by 2 p.m. Eastern Time, the university will suspend those students, according to a notice obtained by CNN. Students who fail to identify themselves to university officials and agree to adhere to school policies will be restricted from accessing campus, classes and all official school activities, including commencement.

The university had failed to reach an agreement with pro-Palestinian demonstrators Monday who have camped out on campus in protest of the school’s ties to Israel, according to a statement from the university’s president.

Over 400 protesters have been arrested in an attempt to break up an encampment that has been in place for over a week at the university, but negotiations have failed to bring an end to the demonstrations. Columbia President Minouche Shafik released a statement Monday saying that negotiations with the protesters had been unsuccessful and that despite calls to do so, the university would not be divesting its endowment from companies tied to Israel. (RELATED: Police Arrest Over 100 Protesters At Emerson College As Pro-Palestinian Protests Flare Across Country)

“We’ve worked hard to balance these principles,” Shafik wrote in her announcement. “To that end, since Wednesday, a small group of academic leaders has been in constructive dialogue with student organizers to find a path that would result in the dismantling of the encampment and adherence to University policies going forward. Regretfully, we were not able to come to an agreement.”

Shafik also warned of the impact the protests could have on graduation celebrations but said the university still planned to hold a commencement.

“We also do not want to deprive thousands of students and their families and friends of a graduation celebration,” she wrote. “Please recall that many in this graduating class did not get a celebration when graduating from high school because of the pandemic, and many of them are the first in their families to earn a University degree. We owe it to all of our graduates and their loved ones to honor their achievements. We want to reassure our community who are trying to make plans that we will indeed hold a Commencement.”

Shafik said that the university offered to create a faster process to review proposals for the school’s Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing, which oversees divestment decisions for Columbia. The university also offered to form a “faculty committee to address academic freedom and to begin a discussion on access and financial barriers to academic programs and global centers” as well as begin investing in “health and education” resources for Gaza.

Columbia’s president also implored protesters to consider the “unwelcoming environment” the situation has created for Jewish students and the difficulty for the whole student body to finish the school year.

On Friday, the school’s Faculty Senate voted 62 to 14 to launch an investigation into President Minouche Shafik over the way the situation has been handled, according to ABC 7, a local ABC News affiliate.

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