Columbia University was at the forefront of protests over the war in Gaza

CBS News

A timeline illustrating how Columbia University became the driving force behind protests on college campuses across the country: ___ APRIL 17 Students set up an encampment at Columbia University the same day university president Nemat Shafik is called for questioning before Congress.
Allegations of antisemitism arose during pro-Palestinian protests against Israel’s actions in the war in Gaza.
Those detained include the daughter of Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who a day earlier had questioned Shafik about the school’s treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters.
The arrests, which New York Mayor Eric Adams says were requested by Columbia officials, garner national attention and inflame college protests nationwide.
In the coming days, pro-Palestinian encampments will be set up at the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina.
APRIL 22 Columbia cancels in-person classes, and an encampment at New York University swells to hundreds of protesters.
APRIL 26 Columbia University students say they’re at an impasse after exhaustive negotiations with administrators and they intend to continue their encampment until their divestment demands are met.
The action from city police came at the request of the university, according to a police statement.


Officials watched with bated breath to see if the two-week confrontation between pro-Palestinian demonstrators and Columbia University in New York would lead to further demonstrations on American college campuses or put an end to the movement that has been gaining ground.

Columbia University protestors dug in, seizing control of an academic building that has been besieged by student demonstrators for almost 60 years, during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. The administration of the university had given protestors until Monday to vacate an encampment, and that’s when things escalated.

Here is a timeline that shows how Columbia University came to be the focal point of nationwide college campus protests.

The ___.

17. APRIL.

One day, Columbia University president Nemat Shafik is summoned before Congress to answer questions, and on that same day, students camp out on campus. Republicans harshly attack Shafik, saying she doesn’t go far enough in addressing antisemitism on Columbia University’s campus. During pro-Palestinian demonstrations against Israel’s actions in the Gaza War, accusations of antisemitism surfaced.

The open questioning session takes place four months after two Ivy League presidents resigned following a similarly heated congressional hearing. Shafik vehemently condemned antisemitism, declaring that it “has no place on our campus,” in contrast to her colleagues who concentrated their comments on defending free speech. “.


Over one hundred protestors are arrested and the protest encampment is broken up by New York City police who are dispatched to Columbia’s campus. Among those in custody is the Democratic U.S. senator’s daughter. S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who had questioned Shafik about the school’s handling of protesters who supported Palestine, the day before.

College demonstrations across the country are sparked by the arrests, which, according to New York Mayor Eric Adams, were ordered by Columbia officials. One day later, director Jon M. Chu’s keynote commencement speech at the University of Southern California is canceled, the university announces. The student valedictorian at USC, a Muslim, was already barred from speaking at the commencement on May 10.

Pro-Palestinian camps are scheduled to be established in the next few days at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Michigan.

22 April.

Hundreds of protesters swell an encampment at New York University as Columbia cancels its in-person classes. After telling the throng to leave and declaring that things have gotten out of control, NYU officials call the police. Numerous demonstrators are taken into custody by police at Yale and NYU in New Haven, Connecticut. Public access is not available to Harvard Yard’s gates in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In response to the unrest, President Joe Biden tries to reach a narrow compromise by denouncing “antisemitic protests” and “those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.”. “.


Administrators at Columbia established a new midnight deadline for demonstrators to vacate the camp. Others, however, are adamant that the school must stop doing business with Israel or any other companies that back the most recent Israel-Hamas conflict before they will formally dissolve.

On other college campuses, police make more arrests elsewhere. More than thirty people are arrested as hundreds of local and state police, some of whom are mounted and brandishing batons, engage in violent altercations with demonstrators at the University of Texas at Austin, forcing them off campus. Police politely detain protesting students at the University of Southern California.


After lengthy talks with administrators, Columbia University students claim they’ve reached a deadlock and plan to stay in their encampment until their demands for divestment are fulfilled. That follows the nationwide arrest of hundreds of protestors over the course of the preceding nine days. The school informs students via email that it would be ineffective to bring back the police “at this time.”.

As a result of reports of antisemitic activity and worries that the protests will taint future commencement ceremonies, schools across the nation are getting ready to close down encampments.


Columbia keeps its word to suspend pupils who disobey a 2 p.m. m. date by which the more than 100-tent encampment must be abandoned. Hundreds of protestors are still there, circling the quad and dodging piles of makeshift flooring and green carpeting that are intended for graduation ceremonies that are set to start next week.

Nearly 1,000 arrests have occurred at campuses across the nation as the last few days of classes come to an end.

30 April.

A “Free Palestine” banner is hung from a window and entrances are blocked as dozens of demonstrators take over Hamilton Hall on the Columbia campus. Administrators have threatened to expel them for their actions. As long as the university doesn’t comply with three demands—financial transparency, amnesty for protestors, and divestment from Israel and businesses that support the Gaza War—protesters will not leave the hall.

After a few hours, riot shield-wielding New York City police storm the building, removing dozens of people and clearing the campus encampment in the process. According to a police statement, the university requested that city police take this action.


At the University of California, Los Angeles, opposing protest groups engage in physical altercations, pushing, kicking, and using sticks as a form of physical punishment, just hours after the police-protester confrontation on the Columbia campus. In order to break up the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protest groups gradually and put an end to the violence, police in helmets and face shields form a line.

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