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Police Begin Moving in to Columbia

Columbia University issued a shelter-in-place order Tuesday evening as hundreds of police gathered outside campus.

At President Minouche Shafik’s behest, officers entered the campus just after 9 p.m. and began moving students away from the front of Hamilton Hall, which protesters have occupied since early Tuesday.

“We were left with no choice,” Shaifk said in a statement. “Columbia public safety personnel were forced out of the building, and a member of our facilities team was threatened.”

Shafik’s letter to the NYPD requested a police presence on campus “through at least May 17, 2024”—two days after graduation. “We trust that you will take care and caution when removing any individual from campus,” it read.

Some officers climbed through second-story windows, accessed via a police truck ladder. Dozens of protesters, some wearing Columbia sweatshirts, were taken into custody and loaded onto NYPD buses.

Faculty expressed frustration at feeling sidelined. According to a statement from the Columbia chapter of the American Association of University Professors, faculty “have spent the day offering our help to defuse the situation on Columbia’s campus and have been rebuffed or ignored. We have been locked out of our campus and have demanded to be allowed back in, and have been rebuffed or ignored. This is not new. Columbia faculty have attempted for the past two weeks to intervene in the situation, only to be shut out by senior University leadership.”

—Susan H. Greenberg, 9:45 p.m.


Mayor Adams Blames “External Actors” as NYPD Officers Amass Outside Columbia

Flanked by New York Police Department officials, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference Tuesday evening that the pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University have been “clearly co-opted” by “external actors” who helped students take over Hamilton Hall on Monday.

Deputy NYPD Commissioner Rebecca Weiner argued that tactics such as making barricades out of furniture, destroying cameras and scaling a building to break in through windows “are a result of guidance” from “external actors.”

Officials also announced that the individuals remaining in Hamilton Hall will be charged with burglary in the third degree, criminal mischief and trespassing. Protesters remaining in the encampment on Columbia’s campus will be charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

NYPD officials said Columbia has not yet asked them to remove protesters from Hamilton Hall, but CNN reported Tuesday night that hundreds of strategic response officers were amassed outside campus Tuesday night. Both Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, which run on either side of the campus, were closed to traffic.

“Right now there is no timetable. We have no letters from [Columbia]. We are here ready to assist them whenever they need our help,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said in response to a question about whether protesters would be removed before commencement on May 15.

When asked for comment, Columbia University referred Inside Higher Ed to the NYPD.

—Josh Moody, 7:45 p.m.


Barnard Faculty Votes No Confidence in President

Barnard College faculty members cast a vote of no confidence in President Laura Rosenbury Tuesday for her handling of recent pro-Palestinian campus protests, according to a news release from the Barnard College chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

The faculty-wide vote follows an April 22 vote of no confidence by AAUP members.

The vote comes after Barnard suspended students for participating in an encampment at Columbia University, though officials indicated they would lift those suspensions for students with no prior misconduct charges who agreed to a probationary period.

Faculty members accused Barnard of enacting “significantly harsher” penalties for students than Columbia, including evicting them from campus housing and cutting off meal plans.

Faculty have accused Rosenbury of a lack of care for students, ignoring shared governance, violating academic freedom and free expression, creating “administrative chaos at every level of the college,” and “undermining the longstanding and cherished culture of Barnard College,” according to an April 22 memo that accompanied the separate AAUP vote of no confidence.

Rosenbury has been president of Barnard College since June.

“The Barnard College administration is aware of the recent faculty vote. We share their commitment to free speech and academic freedom, and to ensuring that students and faculty can engage in political expression within established rules and with respect for the safety of all,” a college spokesperson wrote in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. “We are grateful to our faculty for providing such care and support for students all year, especially over the last few challenging weeks. The administration looks forward to engaging with faculty members as we continue working to ensure that Barnard remains a safe and inclusive community for all.”

—Josh Moody, 5:30 p.m.


Brown Will Vote on Divestment

Brown University has struck a deal with pro-Palestinian protesters: They will voluntarily remove their encampment in exchange for a vote on the university’s divestment from “companies enabling and profiting from the genocide in Gaza,” according to an afternoon news release from the university.

The Corporation, Brown’s governing body, will hear from students at its May meeting and consider a vote on divestment in October. Additionally, students who have violated Brown’s code of conduct by taking part in the encampment protests will not face suspension or expulsion.

“These terms were reached after I wrote yesterday to the students identified as participants in the encampment to offer the meeting with members of the Corporation,” President Christina Paxson wrote in a message to the Brown community. “Members of the administration and the student representatives met both yesterday and today to formalize the agreement, which has been signed by the University and the Coalition representatives.”

The plan for a divestment vote appears to be a concession from the university; earlier Paxson indicated in a message to student protesters that the Corporation was willing to hear the case for divestment but “would not place divestment as an action item” at the October meeting.

–Josh Moody, 4:15 p.m.


UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Marches With Police

More than 30 pro-Palestinian protesters have been detained at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to local media. Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts reportedly joined police to march across campus and replace an American flag that protesters had removed from a flagpole to temporarily erect a Palestinian flag, The News & Observer reported.

Protesters doused Roberts with water as he worked with police to restore the American flag.

Joining police is a rare move among higher education leaders, many of whom have been unwilling to directly engage with protesters during the latest wave of demonstrations.

Roberts, a former member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors who was elevated to the role of interim chancellor in December, comes to the post with a background in business and politics. He previously served as North Carolina’s budget director from 2014 to 2016 under Republican governor Pat McCrory, and was appointed to the UNC board in 2021.

Amid the ongoing protests, UNC Chapel Hill has canceled classes for the rest of the day.

–Josh Moody, 3:45 p.m.


Yale, UCLA and Michigan Presidents Called to Testify 

The leaders of Yale University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Michigan will testify about how they responded to campus antisemitism on May 23, the third hearing conducted by the House Education and Workforce Committee on this issue.

“We have a clear message for mealy-mouthed spineless college leaders: Congress will not tolerate your dereliction of duty to your Jewish students,” said Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the committee. “American universities are officially put on notice that we have come to take our universities back.”

The last hearing, on April 17, featured the leaders of Columbia University and led in part to the latest wave of campus protests related to the Israel-Hamas war.

The announcement of the May 23 hearing came just as Speaker Mike Johnson announced a House-wide crackdown on campus antisemitism, which will include investigations by several powerful committees into whether colleges and universities that receive federal funding are complying with federal law. Where the investigations will lead is not clear, but several lawmakers hinted at the possibility of cutting off billions of federal dollars for financial aid and research to institutions found to be out of compliance.

“If they don’t correct this quickly, you will see Congress respond in time,” Johnson said at the press conference Tuesday. “You’re gonna see funding sources begin to dry up. You’re gonna see every level of accountability that we can muster.”

Katherine Knott, 3:30 p.m.


Columbia Protesters Face Expulsion

Columbia University ramped up discipline on Tuesday afternoon, announcing that students occupying Hamilton Hall will “face expulsion.”

“We regret that students have chosen to escalate the situation through their actions,” read a statement from administrators. “We made it clear yesterday that the work of the university cannot be endlessly interrupted by protesters who violate the rules. Continuing to do so will be met with clear consequences.”

The statement listed actions such as vandalism, breaking windows and blockading building entrances as “untenable.” Officials said the decision to expel students in Hamilton Hall as well as suspend those in the encampment were made in response “to the actions of the protesters, not their cause.”

Hamilton Hall has been occupied several times by student activists over the past half-century, according to The New York Times, including in 1968 when hundreds of students protesting the Vietnam War seized the building, barricaded themselves inside and blocked then-dean Henry Coleman from leaving his office for one night. 

On April 30, 1968, after students had occupied the building for a week, the police entered through underground tunnels and cleared the building, trampling some protesters and dragging others down concrete steps. More than 700 people were arrested.

—Jessica Blake, 1:45 p.m.


An Agreement at Johns Hopkins

On Tuesday, administrators at Johns Hopkins University announced an agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters to dismantle an encampment students had set up on the Baltimore campus Monday, local CBS affiliate WJZ News reported.

According to a statement from the university, students met with President Ron Daniels and Provost Ray Jayawardhana for several hours and agreed that the students would remove the encampment but be allowed to continue protesting from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The statement highlighted the university’s long-standing policies in support of free expression.

“These guidelines were developed collaboratively with our students and reflect a mutual commitment to the flow of open, vibrant expression that is so essential to our academic community, and to preventing harassment, discrimination or intimidation,” it said. “Our priority today was to accommodate a protest while maintaining a safe environment for our community; the peaceful resolution of today’s events speaks to the value of these principles.”

Susan H. Greenberg, 1:30 p.m.


Despite Pause on Boeing, Portland State Students Occupy Library

Like their peers in Morningside Heights, student protesters at Portland State University in Oregon broke into and occupied a campus facility Monday night. And like Columbia’s administrators. Portland State’s leaders closed campus Tuesday morning, noting an ongoing “incident” at the Branford Price Millar Library.

Early signs of the occupation began Sunday as protesters who had previously led smaller demonstrations across campus attempted to block a library entrance using orange construction fencing, trash cans and other debris, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

City and university officials held a press conference late Monday, calling for the occupation to end. What were once free speech demonstrations had elevated to “criminal behavior,” they said.

“We will prosecute,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.

The tensions escalated even after Portland State officials announced Friday that the university would pause its philanthropic relationship with Boeing, an aerospace giant that has provided Israel with fighter jets for years, vowing to reassess its ties again in May. But protesters said that’s not enough, and insisted that university officials call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict as well.

—Jessica Blake, 12:20 p.m.


White House Condemns Takeover of Columbia Building

At a press briefing Tuesday morning, White House national security communications adviser John Kirby conveyed President Biden’s criticism of the Columbia University protesters who took over Hamilton Hall.

“The president believes that forcibly taking over a building on campus is absolutely the wrong approach, that is not an example of peaceful protests,” he said. “Hate speech and hate symbols also have no place in this country. A small percentage of students shouldn’t be able to disrupt the academic experience, the legitimate study, for the rest of the student body.”

When asked about the president’s views on potentially sending in the National Guard to restore order, Kirby said there was no active effort underway, The Hill reported. 

Susan H. Greenberg, 12:00 p.m.


Arrests at UConn

Police arrested an undetermined number of students at the University of Connecticut early Tuesday as part of a crackdown on the flagship campus in Storrs. Students told the Hartford Courant that police officers encircled and then dismantled their encampment, which was first established at the flagship university last Wednesday.

UConn administrators issued a statement Friday prohibiting tents on campus and declaring a 24-7 quiet period for the rest of the semester. It also warned students that their encampment violated both policies and could be cleared out with force. But the protesters didn’t budge, saying they would maintain the demonstration until their demands for divestment were met.

The official number of students arrested is not yet known, but encampment organizers estimate that 23 were detained and charged with disorderly conduct. In addition to the arrest, each student faces a potential $1,000 fine.

—Jessica Blake


Students Occupy Building at Columbia

Anti-war demonstrations at Columbia University escalated further early Tuesday as a group of dozens of student protesters occupied Hamilton Hall, barricading themselves inside. They say they will not leave until “Columbia meets every one of our demands,” which include divestment from companies that do business with Israel and amnesty for students and faculty involved in the protests. In response, university administrators have indefinitely restricted access to Columbia’s main Morningside Heights campus. 

Within minutes of storming the building, the students had blocked all entrances, zip-tying the doors and barricading them with heavy metal gates they brought in from the lawn, as well as wooden tables and chairs from inside. About an hour after their initial entry the protesters unfurled a banner painted with the words “Hind’s Hall,” unofficially renaming the building after Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian killed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

According to a statement from Columbia University Apartheid Divest—the organization behind the main encampment—the students behind the barricade are an “autonomous group.”

The only individuals allowed on campus grounds are students residing in on-campus dorms and essential personnel, according to a Tuesday morning statement from the Emergency Management Operations Team. This will be the case “until circumstances allow otherwise.”

Columbia University has limited access to its campus to residential students and essential personnel.

—Jessica Blake


Israel Supporters at UCLA Strike Pro-Palestinian Encampment

Counter-protests have been escalating at the University of California, Los Angeles over the past several days. A pro-Israel GoFundMe called “UCLA Rally” raised over $90,000 to bring a big screen and speakers to a plaza near the pro-Palestinian encampment, more than three times the original goal of $26,000.

Organizers promised that the counter-protest would be peaceful; law enforcement officials added barricades around the encampment Sunday in the hopes of preventing a scuffle between the two groups, KTLA 5 reported. But the barrier was breached and fighting ensued nevertheless.

Video footage shows members of the pro-Palestinian encampment breaking through the barricades around the pro-Israel group, who then engaged with them.

After the initial conflict died down, a small group of pro-Israel protesters attempted to climb over the barricade around the pro-Palestinian encampment. A security guard hired by UCLA was allegedly pepper sprayed at around 8 a.m., and a demonstrator was seen with blood on their face at around 12:30 p.m. according to the student newspaper the Daily Bruin.

Fights continued Monday night as approximately 60 counter-protesters attempted to breach the entrance of the encampment yet again, drawing the notice of six university officers in riot gear. Posts on X and a public statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations alleged that counter-protesters threw a bag full of mice into the encampment.

“This incident is part of the constant, daily harassment that students at the UCLA Gaza Solidarity Encampment have been subjected to by counter-protesters in support of Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza,” CAIR said. “The university must take immediate action to protect the students participating in the encampment.”

—Jessica Blake


Heavy Police Presence at VCU

At Virginia Commonwealth University, police officers filed out of unmarked buses Monday night and lined the edge of a student encampment just outside the Richmond campus’s library. Soon after, the university issued a campus-wide alert: “Violent Protest Monroe Park. Go inside.”

Brandishing riot shields, the police charged the demonstrators’ makeshift barricade of shipping pallets. Students threw water bottles and other objects from behind the wall but were far outmatched by the chemical agents thrown right back at them, according to The Daily Progress. Emergency tornado sirens were activated, filling the air with their high-low wails. More than 80 arrests were made and the tents were torn down quickly, The Progress added.

Like college leaders on other campuses, VCU administrators said in a statement that many of the protesters were not students, but they did not clarify how they knew that. 

The day before the clash broke out, Republican Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Virginia would protect peaceful gatherings but not tolerate intimidation or hate speech.

“Freedom of expression and peacefully demonstrating is at the heart of our First Amendment, and we must protect it,” Youngkin said. “But that does not go to, in fact, intimidating Jewish students and preventing them from attending class and using annihilation speech to express deeply antisemitic views.”

“We’re not going to have encampments and tents put up,” he added. 

—Jessica Blake


Princeton Hall Briefly Occupied

Thirteen people were arrested at Princeton University on Monday evening after “briefly” occupying Clio Hall, where the Graduate School is based, according to a statement from university officials.

The group included five undergraduates, six graduate students, one postdoctoral researcher and one person unaffiliated with the university, the statement said. But other accounts say there were 15 people involved, including Ruha Benjamin, a Princeton professor of African American studies.

The protesters entered the building at about 4:30 p.m. Monday and put up barricades, calling for university officials to meet with them, according to But their calls went unanswered and the hall was cleared around 6 p.m.

Hundreds of students and faculty rallied outside the building throughout the short sit-in, chanting in support of their peers inside and calling for the university to divest from companies linked to Israel’s military campaigns. They swarmed the university police officers who escorted demonstrators out of the hall, and surrounded the bus they were loaded into.

The students involved were barred from campus and will face disciplinary proceedings, which the university said may include suspension or expulsion. The occupation is a drastic escalation of pro-Palestinian protests at Princeton since students established an encampment in McCosh Courtyard last Thursday.

“This incident was and remains deeply upsetting to many people,” the statement said. “It is also completely unacceptable … We will continue to work to ensure that this campus is one where all members of the community feel welcome and can thrive.”

—Jessica Blake


City College of New York Closes Food Pantry Due to Protests

The City College of New York, part of the City University of New York system, announced Monday afternoon that it would temporarily close its food pantry due to demonstrations on campus.

In an email to the campus community, university officials said that they were “actively working to resolve this issue as soon as possible.” But the food pantry is run entirely by volunteers, many of whom have been diverted to address other campus needs at this time, Jay Mwamba, a college spokesperson told Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

“We rely on our facilities and public safety teams to help us resource the pantry for both safety reasons and to keep the space in good order,” Mwamba said. “Those teams are now closely aligned with work needed to manage these extraordinary times on campus. We are hopeful that we will, once the demonstrations have ended, reopen and begin to do restocking.”

It’s a big disruption at a university where the median family income for undergraduate students is $40,200 and about 40 percent of students report low or very low food security.

—Jessica Blake


Faculty Protecting Students

At Rutgers University, the American Association of University Professors and Adjunct Faculty Union released a public statement Monday saying that it not only supported pro-Palestinian student protesters but would also “establish a faculty committee to monitor the situation and—if the administration makes it necessary—protect them from arrest and repression.”

Students at the flagship campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey, had established an encampment on Voorhees Mall earlier in the day. Although few police have been seen at what students are calling the “Liberated Zone” so far, faculty seem prepared to support them if armed forces are called in.

“As educators and researchers at Rutgers University, members of our union have varying positions on the wider issues in the Palestine-Israel conflict,” the statement read. “But regardless of our differences, we are overwhelmingly united in defending the rights of our members and our students to speak, assemble, and protest, especially in the face of the threats and repression students face today on campuses across this nation.”

—Jessica Blake


100 Arrests at UT Austin

About 100 people were arrested at the University of Texas at Austin on Monday, according to the Austin American Statesman. It was the second round of mass arrests in the Lone Star state capital, following an initial roundup of protesters last Wednesday. Seventy-eight of those arrested were charged with criminal trespass, and one person received an additional charge of obstructing a highway or passageway, said Kristen Dark, public information officer of the Travis County Sheriff's Office.

This time, protesters, many of whom were students, had set up tents on the campus’s South Mall. They yelled chants of “Free Palestine” and “Whose lawn? Our lawn!” and created a barrier around the encampment using foldable tables, some of which appeared to be chained together. 

University and Austin police as well as state troopers warned the protesters that they must vacate the premises several times before advancing. Reporters from the Statesman say officers could be seen using bolt cutters to break the chains and charge through the wall of tables surrounding the encampment. Images capture pepper spray flying through the air as the dense crowd of protesters duck their heads and shield their eyes in an attempt to try to avoid contact with the substance.

Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, continues to voice support for the heavy involvement of law enforcement, tweeting “No encampments will be allowed. Instead, arrests are being made,” along with a video of state troopers donned in riot gear and batons in hand.

—Jessica Blake


Northeastern Faculty and Staff Join Forces 

Instructors and student affairs officials at Northeastern University have come together to form a group called Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, and are publicly condemning the actions of university leaders in response to recent demonstrations.

“We demand that the university drop all charges against protesters, address the intimidation and threats of retaliation that occurred, and issue a public apology and retraction regarding false allegations of anti-semitism,” the group said in a letter to administrators.

The letter followed the arrest of more than 100 protesters on campus Saturday, which involved Massachusetts state, Boston city and Northeastern University police, as well as the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department.

—Jessica Blake

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