This afternoon, student workers and faculty members gathered to show support for suspended students. 

Student Worker Walkout 

At 1 pm on Monday, April 22, Columbia student workers gathered at West Butler Lawn as a walkout “to demand amnesty for student & faculty protesters & divestment from Israeli apartheid,” according to an Instagram post by the New York City chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement. 

Student workers and supporters gathered around the Sundial, College Walk, and the midpoint between Butler lawns, holding signs that read, “No police on campus,” “No antisemitism,” and “No Israeli apartheid.” 

The protest began with several chants, including, “The students will not rest until Columbia divests.” Speakers addressed the suspensions of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and BC/CU Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Thursday’s arrests at the encampment, with one speaker stating that the arrests left “psychological scars by the brutality we faced.” 

One speaker discussed negotiation conversations with President Minouche Shafik, stating, “One side dictates what the University should do, but when I thought about it, I wasn’t sure which side it was,” eliciting cheers from the crowd. “I think the side is supposed to be us.” They mentioned that before the Encampment, there was organizing by Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD). Before CUAD, they said, there were already several divestment referendums at play. “JVP and SJP were silenced, the referendum was ignored, and students at the encampment were suspended,” a speaker said. “Divestment is not a question—it is overdue.” 

Reflecting on the group’s status as student workers, a speaker declared their “refus[al] to debate if Palestine must be free,” emphasizing their solidarity with CUAD. “You do not want to fuck with the student workers on this campus,” one speaker stated. “We will not tolerate the oppression of our students and our colleagues.” 

Student workers and supporters gather on the lawns. 

One speaker discussed their personal reason for being at the Encampment, stating they are “the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and a great-granddaughter of an Armenian genocide survivor.” The speaker declared, “You all are incredibly smart people… it is time for you to get out of your libraries and labs and put your theory into practice… Fuck up the functioning of this despicable place until they meet our demands.” 

Later, a speaker updated the crowd that Columbia College students voted in favor of divestment, referring to the email sent to Columbia College students at 1:33 pm announcing that the Columbia College Student Council Divestment Referendum had passed. After reading the results from the referendum, one speaker announced, “We have the academic will of the student body… With all of this, it is clear that divestment is inevitable.” The crowd then began chanting, “I believe that we will win.” 

At this point, the student worker walkout ended, many ushering towards Low Steps to join the faculty walkout to follow.  

Faculty Walkout

Following the Student Workers of Columbia’s protest on Columbia’s campus, a Columbia faculty walkout was held on Low Steps at 2 pm in order to demand amnesty for suspended students. Professors lined up in front of Alma Mater, many wearing graduation regalia and holding signs reading, “We support our students” and “Faculty for academic freedom.”

Julie Crawford, an English professor, and four other professors took turns speaking. They noted they intended to be back for their 2:40 classes and gave a disclaimer that this action was not about any professors’ own political views but rather the views of the faculty as a whole. They stated that they “are united in our outrage that the NYPD came to our campus […] to arrest our students on the campus where they study, work, and live,” and condemned the “unnecessary escalation of turmoil both inside and outside our gates.”

Blue pieces of paper with text titled “A Declaration by the Barnard and Columbia Chapter of the American Association of University Professors following the Mass Emergency Meeting of the Faculty Held on Friday, April 19, 2024,” were passed out to spectators. The message condemns “the Administration’s suspension of students engaged in peaceful protest and their arrest by the New York City Police Department,” calling the actions a violation of University Statutes and students’ rights to safety and freedom of speech. Finally, the message demands the University to drop and expunge all suspensions and charges and demands the stopping of disciplinary action against protesting students without due process and that no police are permitted on campus without consultation from the University Senate. 

Faculty members gathered on Low Steps.


David Lurie, director of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), then read the press release sent on Thursday after the arrests of students, to which History Professor Christopher Brown stated that the day of the arrests “will be remembered as a shameful day in Columbia’s history.” He stated he was there because he was “concerned about what is happening at this University, with where we are now and with where we are going.” Recalling President Shafik’s notice to bring the NYPD onto campus, he called the presence of riot police “unprecedented, unjustified, disproportionate, divisive, and dangerous.” He called Shafik’s “show of force” a “sign of weakness,” and criticized the University for its “incompetence.”” He further criticized Shafik for her testimony before Congress on Wednesday, saying that she “showed no pride in our institution” and “allowed slander of our institution to stand without rebuke,” which was received by the crowd gathered on Low steps with demonstrators calling “Shame” and “Resign.”  

Brown then addressed the “members of Congress who want to decide who should be disciplined, …what should be taught, … who should be promoted, who should be fired,” saying that their questions threatened “institutional independence” and “the sovereignty of Columbia University and every university like this one,” “why people come from around the world to study here, to teach here, to research here[ …] and we’d be fools not to defend it.” After Brown’s speech, the audience could be heard chanting, “Resign, resign,” speaking of President Shafik. 

A view of the faculty walkout from above.

Then, the professors spoke about Columbia University’s position as an educational institution. Professor María Rivera Maulucci, an alum of both Barnard College and Teachers College and the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Education and Education Program Director Chair, criticized the disciplinary actions against students in the name of education. “The root of word education means to lead out, but how are we leading our students out? In zip ties. Where are we leading students out? To buses? To police stations?” She also claimed that these actions have only increased polarization on campus and emphasized the necessity of an apology to the suspended students and the “immediate affirmation of the identity and goals of the University.”

Professor María Rivera Maulucci on Low Steps

Hilary Callahan, professor of Biology at Barnard, was next to speak. Callahan referenced Clarence Darrow and the 1925 Scopes Trial, wherein the ACLU funded a test trial to challenge the ban on teaching human evolution in state-funded schools. Darrow defended John T. Scopes, a high school teacher accused of illegally teaching human evolution. Callahan called the historical event an “emblem of how wrong it is to treat teachers as pawns and scapegoats.” She then listed various demands, shouting into the crowd, “We insist on science and factual evidence… on delineating the boundaries between certainty and uncertainty…on honest, open, and difficult discourse,” discourse she claimed were “pathways to a more humane world.” 

Then, turning to the encampment before her, Callahan said that “last week, that path traced across a very green, excessively manicured lawn,” which was met with laughter and cheers. She then called the University’s response to the encampment “intemperate and regrettable,” reiterating faculty support of students, that they would “work tirelessly to undo that error.” Returning to her opening statement, as if closing out a class, she ended her speech by referencing how Darrow, the defendant’s lawyer, “worked together with the NAACP to get Scopes acquitted,” and suggested that those in attendance “should read up about it.” 

At the end of the walkout, the faculty expressed that they are working tirelessly to undo the “error” of how the University has reacted to the protests and that their priorities today are with students and helping them “get acquitted in the face of the law and…of their own academic institution.” The rally ended, and many started chanting, “Free, Free Palestine.” 

Barnard Faculty Walkout 

As the faculty walkout on Low Steps ended, Elizabeth Bernstein, professor and chair of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies as well as a professor of Sociology then announced that some Barnard faculty would be marching to Barnard to continue the protest. Crowds began to walk across the street to Barnard’s campus, streaming through the Barnard gates and onto the main brick path, many chanting “What do we want? Lift suspensions! When do we want it? Now!” Faculty members held signs reading “Faculty against fascism,” “Education is love,” and “Hands off our students.” 

Faculty members march through Columbia to Barnard’s campus. 

The crowd made its way towards Milbank, gathering below the pillars, resuming chants of “What do we want? House our students! When do we want it? Now!” The crowd entered Milbank Hall and lined up the stairwells to approach Barnard President Laura Rosenbury’s office. Protesters chanted “Talk to us!” as they filed in a line outside of Rosenbury’s office. President Rosenbury has yet to release a statement on the events of the past several days. Barnard security officers prevented protesters from slipping letters under Rosenbury’s door after they discovered that President Rosenbury and the Barnard Administration were not in their offices. 

Professors and their supporters enter Milbank Hall and approach the Office of the President. 

The group then moved towards Futter Field, where faculty members began jumping over the barricade blocking people from entering the area. “Meme us, Tweet us, viral us,” one professor declared. 

Professors demanded that Barnard suspensions “and expulsions” be expunged from student records. It is unclear whether or not any Barnard students have been expelled as a result of the ensuing protests. “We demand that no new policies be implemented by the administration without meaningful faculty participation as defined by the faculty,” professors declared. “We demand that no new disciplinary precedents be initiated without faculty support. These suspensions are not simply procedural violations, they violate the decency and the dignity we should afford to all members of our Barnard community, no matter their political positions.” 

A professor jumps over the Futter Field barricade. 
Faculty member knocks on Rosenbury’s door
Faculty outside of Dean Grinage’s office

Article photos via Bwog Staff

Faculty walkout photos via Elias Reville

Header image via Elias Reville