As the Gaza Solidarity Encampment enters day six, ongoing protests, demonstrations, and responses from officials and beyond continue taking place.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 11:31 pm: Teaching guidelines for the remainder of the Spring 2024 Semester

Columbia Provost Olinto and COO Holloway established new teaching guidelines for the rest of the Spring 2024 Semester in response to the ongoing protests. Barnard EVP Murray also updated students. Read more.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 8:09 pm: President Laura Rosenbury’s statement

President Laura Rosenbury has released her first statement since the arrests and subsequent suspensions of 50 Barnard students on Thursday. Read more.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 7:32 pm: Government official press conferences

Sid Rosenberg and congressmen held press conferences on campus on Monday, April 22. Read more.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 6:30 pm:

Barnard divestment referendum

Barnard students can now vote in a divestment referendum, as announced in an email sent by Barnard’s Student Government Association (SGA) Elections Commission. Voting is open until Monday, April 29 at noon.

George Santos

Today, former NY-3 House of Representative George Santos announced on X he will come to Columbia on Wednesday, April 24 to “help protect the Jewish students get to class safely.” George Santos does not have access to the Columbia campus, given he is not a CUID holder. Santos continued his Tweet by saying, “This is America and NO ONE will live with fear and oppressed, especially by terrorist sympathizers!”

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 6:20 pm:

Senior events statement

The Senior Class Presidents of Barnard College, Columbia College, the School of General Studies and Columbia Engineering posted a statement to Instagram confirming that all scheduled senior events will continue as planned. These events include the Senior Cruise, Senior Gala and Senior Brunch and the post highlighted that these events are created by students, not the University. The statement emphasized that it is “dedicated to safeguarding the rights, safety, and well-being of all students.” The statement also mentioned that they stand in solidarity with students amidst the “divisive atmosphere on campus.” The Presidents ended their statement by saying they believe any senior that wishes to celebrate their years in college should have the opportunity to do so.

Item recovery after arrests

Student organizers responsible for organizing item recovery after the Thursday arrests have indicated that all items have been claimed and recovered.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 5:40 pm: Student workers and faculty walkouts

Student workers, faculty, and staff at Barnard and Columbia held walkouts this afternoon, demanding amnesty for students and faculty. Read more here.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 4 pm: Professor Marc Lamont Hill statement

In a post on X, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Presidential Professor of Anthropology and Urban Education at the City University of New York Graduate Center, announced that he will no longer speak at Columbia’s 2024 Mamie Phipps Clark and Kenneth B. Clark Distinguished Lecture scheduled for Wednesday, April 24. Additionally, he announced that he will not accept the accompanying $10,000 award. In his post, Dr. Hill stood by the demands of the ongoing academic boycott and encouraged others to honor the boycott as well. He urged everyone to “find inspiration and leadership” in the student protestors, calling the boycott a “beautiful, righteous, courageous, and uncompromising struggle for global freedom and justice.” 

The Mamie Phipps Clark and Kenneth B. Clark Distinguished Lecture is an annual event established in 2017 that awards senior scholars of race and justice for their contributions to the field. Dr. Hill is a scholar-activist whose research and writing focuses on race, culture, politics, and education in the U.S. and the Middle East. He also hosts the Al Jazeera UpFront podcast, where he recently discussed U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 3:58 pm: AAUP Resolution of Censure

Today, Monday, April 22, Barnard and Columbia members of the America Association of University Professors (AAUP) submitted a Resolution of Censure of Columbia President Minouche Shafik, the General Counsel, the Chief Operating Officer, and the Co-Chairs of the Board of Trustees to the University Senate for review. The resolution addresses Shafik’s “violation of the fundamental requirements of academic freedom and shared governance, and her unprecedented assault on students’ rights,” with AAUP members requesting “unequivocal and emphatic condemnation.

”The resolution argues that on April 17, Shafik reportedly testified before Congress that she was willing to fire and investigate faculty for alleged Title IX violations, which the resolution states is a violation of “the norms, practices, policies, and protections upon which a university is founded.” Additionally, the Co-Chairs of the Board of Trustees claimed that they would not approve tenure for “a particular faculty member” if asked to do so now, despite “knowing nothing of his qualifications or of the judgment of his disciplinary peers, who are the ultimate arbiters of tenure.” These reasons among others, the resolution asserts, warrant the censure of the named parties.

The resolution also argues that Shafik “ignored the opinions of the faculty and students on the Senate Executive Committee who unanimously rejected her request to summon armed New York City police onto our campus,” and “falsely claimed” that the students who were arrested for protesting on April 18 posed a “clear and present danger to the substantial functioning of the University.” A statement from NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell affirms that students who were arrested were peaceful in their demonstrations.

The resolution continues by stating that the named parties have “lost the trust of many faculty, staff, students, and alumnae,” which can only be regained by “strict adherence to the norms of academic freedom, shared governance, freedom of assembly, and due process.”

In its conclusion, the resolution reiterates the fact that the AAUP is calling for the censure of Shafik, not her resignation. Rather, they request a “recommitment to our core values on the part of our President, her administration, and the Board of Trustees.”

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 3:40 pm: Billboard trucks

At least one pro-Israel billboard truck has returned to campus, demanding “the National Guard liberate Columbia University” and “Jihadis out of Columbia.” According to the New York Times, additional billboard trucks are critiquing Columbia leadership, and portraying images of children and journalists killed by Israeli forces.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 2:42 pm: NYPD briefing on ongoing protests

The NYPD held a briefing about their response to the ongoing Columbia University demonstrations on 116th and Broadway. Read more here.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 2:28 pm: Columbia College students voted in favor of the Divestment Referendum

At 1:30 pm, the Columbia Elections Board released the decisions of the resolutions within the Divestment Referendum. This referendum asked for financial divestment, the cancellation of the Global Center in Tel Aviv, and the ending of the Dual Degree Program with Tel Aviv University, with the resolutions passing with 76.55%, 68.36%, and 65.62% majority. 40.26% of eligible CC voters participated in the vote, exceeding the 30% voter participation requirement. This referendum follows a previous referendum created by CCSC in 2020 that was passed in support of the University’s divestment from companies that support Israeli policies toward Palestinian people. While this referendum is not a guarantee of divestment from the university, it is an expression of a majority of the student’s wishes that participated in the vote.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 1:03 pm: Robert Kraft statement

On Monday, April 22, Columbia alum, Columbia/Barnard Hillel donor, and Foundation to Combat Antisemitism founder Robert K. Kraft posted a statement on X denouncing what he describes as “the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus.” Kraft’s statement comes after six days of the Gaza Solidarity Encampment that student protestors constructed on Butler lawns on April 17 and the subsequent NYPD student arrests and counter protests on and near Columbia’s campus.

In his statement, Kraft expressed his gratitude for his Columbia education while condemning the current protests, stating that he is “no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff” in light of the recent events. 

Kraft is the CEO of the Kraft Group, with assets in sports, paper and packaging, and real estate, among other industries, and he has owned the NFL’s New England Patriots since 1994. His statement that he is “no longer comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken” could mean a significant blow to Columbia’s funding, since Kraft’s millions of dollars in donations funded the construction of the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life in 2000 as well as Columbia’s intercollegiate athletics program. In 2007, Columbia named the playing field at the Baker Athletic Complex the Robert K. Kraft field after Kraft’s $5 million donation.

University funding and donations have been at the center of the ongoing Gaza Solidarity Encampment protest. An Instagram post from Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) and Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), among others, states that the groups are demanding Columbia’s divestment from “companies and institutions that profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation in Palestine.”

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 12:35 pm: Governor Kathy Hochul statement

This morning, Governor Kathy Hochul announced via X (Twitter) that she visited the University to meet with “law enforcement, the NYPD, the deputy mayor, [and] the President of the College to talk about security.” She stated that her top priority as Governor is to “keep people in the state safe,” specifically to “protect Public Safety and security, enforce state human rights laws, and protect people’s right to peacefully assemble and to have freedom of speech.” Hochul proceeded to mention that as a student, she engaged in student protests including those “against apartheid.”

However, Hochul noted that she has “never seen a level of protest that is so person-to-person, so visceral,” calling on all parties involved to “find their humanity.” She asked Columbia affiliates to “have the conversations, talk to each other, understand different points of view because that’s what college students should be doing.”

Additionally, Governor Hochul clarified the role of the University administration and public servants in the situation, stating that they must “foster the right environment for that [conversation].” She concluded her remarks with the hope that a resolution which “people have a deeper sense of understanding” is agreed upon, telling her listeners that the United States was “founded on people searching for religious freedom… and no one here on a college campus should feel like they are being persecuted because of their religious beliefs.”

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 12:13 pm: Barnard tours cancellation

Barnard Admissions has canceled all regular tours for today, Monday, April 22 and tomorrow, Tuesday, April 23. So far, events for admitted students continue as normal.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 11:58 am: Letter from Professor James Schamus to Columbia faculty members

James Schamus, Professor of Professional Practice in Film and Media Studies, submitted to Bwog a letter that he wrote to a School of Arts & Sciences Town Hall group chat with other faculty members. In the letter, entitled “A note to fellow Columbia faculty on the current panic,” he critiques recent media coverage of the Columbia protests. 

Emphasizing that the Columbia community and others “shouldn’t dismiss credible accounts of genuinely anti-semitic incidents on the rise, here and elsewhere,” he condemned the “manufactured hysteria around them,” which he described as being “weaponized in the movement to quell legitimate political speech on campus and elsewhere, mainly through the conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-semitism itself.” 

As an example of recent media disinformation, Professor Schamus pointed to the recent coverage of an alleged Columbia rabbi, Rav Elie Buechler, telling Jewish students on campus to return to their homes “as soon as possible” for their safety. Schamus notes that Buechler is not a campus rabbi with Barnard/Columbia Hillel—as it is indicated in some coverage—but rather the director of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC). Schamus continued by pointing out that the Orthodox Union’s founder, Menachem Schrader, attests to being a rabbi “of Moshav Carmel in the Judean Hills and of Congregation Tiferet Avot in Efrat,” in his OU-JLIC biography and further noted that Carmel and Efrat are “illegal Israeli settlements located in the Occupied West Bank, centers of the Amana movement, the radical settlement arm of the violent, racist Gush Emunim.” Schamus added that the Amana movement was founded by Ze’ev Hever, a supremacist who was imprisoned for a bombing plot. 

Professor Schamus stated that the OU-JILC is located on about thirty campuses in the United States associated with International Hillel, which Schamus claims has become “increasingly reactionary in its policing of Jewish students’ speech around Israel and Palestine” citing articles from Palestine Legal and Foreign Policy that suggest that Hillel has censored Jewish students with anti-Israel sentiments. 

Professor Schamus concluded the letter by stating, “Action based on genuine concern for the well-being and safety of our Jewish students and colleagues should be founded on the defense of the very principles and norms being assaulted by those hijacking that concern to give cover to the larger project of ethnic cleansing and settlement in the West Bank and, now, of course, Gaza.” 

The full text of the statement can be found below. 

Letter from Professor James Schamus to Bwog sent via email at 9:32 am:

22 April 2024

As Columbia survivors of last fall’s International Day of Jihad (sic), a not-surprisingly quite effective disinformation campaign, we still shouldn’t dismiss credible accounts of genuinely anti-semitic incidents on the rise, here and elsewhere. They deserve condemnation – as does the manufactured hysteria around them, weaponized in the movement to quell legitimate political speech on campus and elsewhere, mainly through the conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-semitism itself. 

Let’s start with Rav Elie Beuchler, described in much of the recent massive press coverage of the terrors awaiting us Jews at Columbia as the “Columbia Rabbi” who sent an email to a few hundred students yesterday telling them to go home “as soon as possible” in fear for their lives and safety. One thing Beuchler is not, in fact, is the Columbia/Barnard Hillel campus rabbi; rather he is on the staff of the Orthodox Union-Jewish Institute for Leaning on Campus, run as a wing of the Orthodox Union. 

To get a sense of the political mission of the OU-JILC, consider its Founding Director, Menachem Schrader, whose biography on the organization’s website attests he “has been community rabbi of Moshav Carmel in the Judean Hills and of Congregation Tiferet Avot in Efrat.” Carmel and Efrat are – and you can probably guess where this is going –  illegal Israeli settlements located in the Occupied West Bank, centers of the Amana movement, the radical settlement arm of the violent, racist Gush Emunim. Amana was founded and led for decades by Ze’ev Hever, a Jewish supremacist terrorist who spent 11 months in jail for a Jewish Underground bombing plot before becoming a major establishment figure in the settlement movement. (Ironically, after his own car was vandalized in a violent “Price Tag” settler vigilante action in 2012, Hever himself, at least publicly, called for a reduction in settler rampages – one needn’t wonder whether his fanatical acolytes heeded that call.)

The OU-JILC actually brands itself as the “Heshe and Harriet Sief OU-JILC,” named, one assumes, after its major benefactors. Heshe and Harriet Sief, who are also major donors to Yeshivat Har-Etzion , which is located – you guessed it – in the Etzion bloc of settlements. It should be noted that funding for the Initiative, as with the Union itself, is opaque – the Union itself, given its prominent political activities, has been decried in Jewish philanthropy circles for its lack of transparency).  

The Initiative has planted itself on thirty or so campuses in the United States, and has been welcomed into spaces controlled by International Hillel, which has become increasingly reactionary in its policing of Jewish students’ speech around Israel and Palestine. 

That policing now threatens to engulf the University as a whole. Action based on genuine concern for the well-being and safety of our Jewish students and colleagues should be founded on the defense of the very principles and norms being assaulted by those hijacking that concern to give cover to the larger project of ethnic cleansing and settlement in the West Bank and, now, of course, Gaza.   

James Schamus

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 11:20 am:

JVP open letter from arrested and suspended Jewish students

At 10 am, JVP posted an open letter to their Instagram from the “arrested and suspended Jewish students of Columbia University.” The letter describes the students’ “extreme concern for the state of Jewish students on this campus,” detailing how being arrested, suspended, and evicted has prevented them from engaging in various religious practices. The letter also addresses Shai Davidai and his various comments, the authors stating that “We do not feel safe with this professor still teaching on our campus, having access to the Jewish community spaces we cherish,” as well as the Columbia University Antisemitism Task Force, demanding a public meeting with the task force “if [their] purpose is to protect Jewish students.”

CUAD statement on Columbia administration’s disciplinary action on tents

CU Apartheid Divest (CUAD) has released a statement in response to the Columbia administration’s disciplinary action statement made yesterday in an article from the Columbia Spectator. In the article, a Columbia spokesperson states that students who repitch tents at the solidarity encampment will be “identified and subjected to disciplinary action”. According to CUAD, Columbia’s intent to evoke disciplinary action on any student pitching tents goes against days-long good-faith negotiations that the organization has taken part in alongside the administration. CUAD refers to this statement as “hostile” and intimidating, stating that the development “jeopardizes future cooperative talks”.

CUAD assures that they will continue to center Gaza in their efforts to inspire Columbia’s complete divestment from and boycott of Israel, and “will not be deterred from [their] principled stance until Columbia meets [their] demands”. They continue to celebrate the encampment as a “powerful and dignified hub” for student protest and confirm their dedication to “democratize governance at the university”. Find the whole statement here.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 10:28 am: Virginia Foxx response

On Sunday, April 21, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to President Shafik and Columbia Trustees Co-Chairs David Greenwald and Claire Shipman, writing that she was “gravely concerned” by the ongoing situation with the Gaza Solidarity Encampment on Columbia’s campus. Foxx called the Columbia administration’s response “a major breach of the University’s Title VI obligations,” and stated that the encampment and related protests “have resulted in widespread antisemitic harassment and intimidation, assaults, frequent celebration of terrorism, and major disruptions of Columbia’s learning environment.”

She called on Shafik and the Columbia administration to “restore order and safety without further delay,” citing the commitments described by Shafik, Shipman, and Greenwald in their April 17 hearing with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 10:15 am: Shai Davidai on campus

Columbia Business Professor Shai Davidai has just attempted to enter campus at 117th and Broadway, surrounded by a group of supporters. According to reporter Talia Jane, Davidai’s CUID was deactivated, preventing him from entering the gates. Chief Operating Officer Cas Holloway stood at the gates while this happened. “I am a professor here,” Davidai exclaimed after his card was deactivated. “I have every right to peace everywhere on campus,” he stated. “You cannot let people that support Hamas on campus, and me, a professor, not go on campus.” Davidai then told COO Holloway, “Let me in now.”

After Davidai’s card was deactivated, he stood upon a ledge at the gates, speaking to the crowd. “They deactivated my card. These are five lawsuits in happening,” he stated. Members of the crowd responded, “Shame on you!” and “Columbia, there goes your funding!”

Before Davidai approached 117th and Broadway gates at Earl Hall, he gave a speech to his supporters in front of the 116th and Broadway gates. Reporter Olivia Scootercaster posted a video recorded by X user @yyeeaahhhboiii2 where Davidai stated, “We need to make the world understand that being Jewish in public is a safe thing, and it shouldn’t be something that’s contested. We are not fighting just for the Jews—we are fighting for everyone.”

Update made on Monday, April 22 at 12:20 am:

CUAD statement on media coverage

CU Apartheid Divest (CUAD) posted a statement to their Instagram expressing their frustration with “media distractions focusing on inflammatory individuals who do not represent [them].” This comes after a group of statements from government officials, including the White House, Senator Gillibrand, and Mayor Eric Adams. They continued by stating that their protesters have been “misidentified by a politically motivated mob, doxxed in the press, arrested by the NYPD, and locked out of their homes by the University.” The group further stated that they “reject any form of hate or bigotry and stand vigilant against non-students attempting to disrupt the solidarity being forged among students—Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Black, and pro-Palestinian classmates and colleagues who represent the full diversity of our country.” They closed their statement by remarking that they are “following in the footsteps” of the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-war Movement before listing their demands for financial divestment from Israel, financial clarity from Columbia, and amnesty for suspended and arrested students.

The Gaza Solidarity Encampment implements assemblies

Members of the Encampment are currently gathered for a community meeting. After being approached by individuals who began recording, a representative from the Encampment replied, “We ask that you please respect our privacy and community guidelines which you have so far disrespected and leave our camp,” to which one of the recording individuals remarked, “Fuck the community guidelines.” Encampment members gathered in a circle for the first assembly meeting, singing lyrics such as, “Your people are my people” and “We shall not be moved.” Individuals then began chanting, “We keep us safe.”

The organizers proceeded to remind the encampment members about the community guidelines. They announced that the encampment will implement assemblies for unitary decision-making in which most votes will be decided by a simple majority. Then, a vote was held to have assemblies every day, passing immediately. The first agenda item of the 4/21 Assembly was a discussion about the recent Columbia Spectator article about the tent permissions published at 9:36 pm on April 21. After acknowledging the general anxiety of the encampment, an organizer stated, “It is highly unlikely that they will be able to discipline the hundreds of people that are coming and going from this lawn.”

Then, they announced that the organizers have been in “serious negotiations” with the University administration since Friday and that they discussed financial divestment and amnesty in the negotiations earlier on Sunday. The organizers as a whole believe that they made “productive progress,” and the speaker told encampment members that “this space [the encampment] is a very important bargaining chip for us.” The organizer closed their speech by stating, “In our initial talks about the University this morning, we said the University is aware, we did not say the University approved.”

A new organizer stepped forward to speak with the group. They opened by remarking, “Until we get these demands in writing, we’re not trusting this University that brought NYPD on its students.” They continued, stating, “This is all about how the University can project power against us,” echoing the previous speaker’s sentiments about the encampment being a point of leverage. They proceeded to explain to the collective that proposals in negotiations will be voted on as a group before moving forward. Additionally, they announced that there are three people on the encampment’s “Internal Governance Committee” where members can share proposals for negotiations.

After this, a new speaker was introduced to the crowd. They stated that at “9:30 [am] tomorrow, Shai Davidai has put the call out to come sit here [at the encampment].” The speaker explained that JVP has offered to set up a de-escalation training and stated, “We do not engage with counter-protesters. We do not engage with Shai Davidai.” The speaker said that they hope that Davidai does not enter the encampment, but in the case he does, members should “continue with their programming” and “act like he’s not there.” Additionally, the organizer informed the group that Davidai requested to be “guarded by 10 cops” but that the University Senate advised against NYPD presence on campus. The crowd responded with a cheer. Reiterating previous sentiments, the speaker asked members to not engage, saying, “We keep us safe and that’s a part of keeping us safe.”

Photos via Bwog Staff