Columbia University dropped on Tuesday its disciplinary investigation into 16 students who disrupted a campus speaker last month. The investigation -- which had received backlash from a large number of faculty -- was one of the first serious considerations of punishing student protesters this academic year.
Students involved in the protest said that the dropping of the charges validated their interpretation of events, and that they were within their rights as students when they protested anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson. Robinson, who joined students by video chat, had been invited by the College Republicans in October. Protesters peppered him with questions and disrupted his talk, although he did engage in a question-and-answer session with them. College Republicans, as well as the university, had maintained that the protest was disruptive -- citing, for example, attempts by some to unplug the equipment used to project Robinson’s video chat -- and said that the university should uphold its committment to free speech.
The College Republicans invited far-right writer Mike Cernovich to campus on Monday night, prompting large protests outside and inside the room where he spoke, although the protesters inside were mostly silent.
"I look forward to getting back to my studies and my teaching," Jared Sacks, one of the students involved in the Robinson protest, said in an email. “The entire [disciplinary] process has been riddled with inconsistencies and an overstepping of authority by various people in the administration (including the President and Provost themselves). They have certainly not played a neutral role here."