As of early morning on May 1, the Gaza Solidarity Encampment has been removed by the University and NYPD. Read live updates here.

Update made on Thursday, May 2 at 12:38 am:

Barnard move-out policies, as sent to families

In an email sent by Barnard SVP Sarah Gillman and Barnard Dean Leslie Grinage, it was announced that Barnard students will be able to sign in guests for the move-out period. Guests without a BCID will not be permitted to stay the night and must wear a guest badge.

SVP Gillman and Dean Grinage also announced that the only point of gate access will continue to be 117th and Broadway, while Milstein Library will close at 7 pm through Thursday. While gate access remains limited to BCID holders, Barnard students can sign in guests through a form. Guests permitted inside Barnard gates will only be allowed for “critical operational functions and certain academic events,” including move-out.

Update made on Thursday, May 2 at 12:26 am:

University spokesperson speaks after the arrests

At 6 pm on May 1, Columbia Vice President of Communications Ben Chang held a press briefing. Chang commenced the briefing with gratitude towards the press and the workers who have been addressing the crisis “around the clock.” He stated that Hamilton Hall is currently an “active crime scene” under investigation by the NYPD. “These were not peaceful protesters,” he stated, saying that the occupation had caused “severe damage” to the building, which he personally surveyed.

Chang also noted that the encampments on West Butler Lawn and Lewisohn Lawn have been removed.

Chang highlighted that the campus atmosphere today remained calm with no rallies or demonstrations, marking a significant change from the previous days of protests. Regarding arrests, Chang mentioned that the NYPD reported a total of 282 arrests last night, with 109 individuals connected to Columbia University. However, he did not provide specific numbers concerning suspensions or expulsions, citing ongoing evaluations.

Echoing President Shafik’s sentiments, Chang expressed regret over the escalation of events. “The turn of events last night filled us with deep sadness. We’re very sorry to have reached this point,” he said. Despite eight days and nights of negotiations, efforts to resolve the conflict amicably were unsuccessful. “It’s unfortunate but those efforts did not… bear fruit. We were unable to come to a resolution.”

Chang reiterated President Shafik’s message that the University’s primary responsibility was to “ensure the safety” of the community, which led to the decision to call in NYPD support, backed by the Board of Trustees. He justified last night’s police action as a response to “the fact that [they] saw students and outside activists breaking into Hamilton Hall and… damaging property.” He also noted the presence of two Public Safety officers in the building at the time of its occupation. 

“These are acts of destruction, not political speech,” Chang emphasized, indicating that the University’s actions were in response to protesters’  actions rather than the causes espoused by the protesters.

The briefing also touched on the discomfort and unwelcomeness felt by many students due to the “disruption” and the rhetoric used by some protestors. “Many students have felt uncomfortable and unwelcome because of this disruption and the comments made by some individuals, in particular in the protests that have been persistently mobilizing outside our gates.”  

Chang emphasized that the NYPD were called in because President Shakif identified the situation and a “clear and present danger to the functioning of the University.” 

Chang continued to say that the actions were prompted by concerns outlined by Shafik in a previous communication, continuously referencing her letter to the university community published April 30. Chang also relayed information from an email sent by Provost Olinto earlier today. Following these disruptions, the University has decided to move all academic activities at the Morningside campus to remote platforms indefinitely. 

Additionally, Chang noted upcoming changes to the academic schedule, including extensions for grade submissions, ensuring that academic activities continue remotely to avoid further disruptions. Chang announced adjusted academic deadlines. The new deadline for grade submissions for seniors is now set for Monday, May 13, while the deadline for grades for other students has been extended to Thursday, May 16. This information also echoes Provost Olinto’s message. 

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 11:55 pm:

Dean Sorett’s statement

In an email titled “Where do we go from here?” Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education Josef Sorett acknowledged the recent protests and police presence on campus, urging students to “process [the events] in [their] own way.” The events, which saw police intervention at Hamilton Hall and students led away in zip-ties, mark the second such occurrence within a span of 12 days, he wrote.

Sorett described the images of police action on campus as “weigh[ing] heavily” on the Columbia community, acknowledging the profound emotional impact on students, faculty, and staff. He emphasized that while physical damages such as broken glass and furniture can be repaired, “more enduring damage has been done to the intangible foundations of our community.”

In his email, Sorett called upon the Columbia community to contribute to the healing process in ways that feel sincere and meaningful to them. He highlighted the challenges posed by social media in shaping perceptions and reactions, cautioning against the divisive effects of digital platforms and urging vigilance against manipulation through “algorithms” or external ”agendas.”

The recent events have underscored underlying issues of “anger, frustration, factionalism and distrust” within the campus community, Sorett noted. He encouraged students to view these challenges as a collective rather than individual burdens and to strive for understanding and unity amidst diversity.

Echoing Martin Luther King Jr., Sorett posed a question to the students: “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?” He expressed a robust hope in the student community’s ability to overcome current adversities through shared values and mutual respect, stating, “I continue to have hope in this community. Not a mawkish, Pollyanna hope but a deeply rooted belief that each of you sees value and the possibility for change in yourself, just as you see the worth and possibility of change in others.”

Sorett concluded his message by saying that the “form of work” the community will have to undertake in the coming year “is not yet entirely clear.” However, he charges students to “move through this uncertainty to a place of greater strength, and with [their] heads held high.”

Rally outside of Columbia

Students and community members gathered on 116th and Amsterdam for a “light show” in support of Palestine. Several cars drove by with Palestinian flags in the windows, and protesters chanted on the streets. There was heavy NYPD presence, and protesters were barricaded to one corner of 116th and Amsterdam. In the middle of the rally, one demonstrator fired a flare into the air.

Eventually, walked down Amsterdam and traversed to Broadway, where they continued back to Amsterdam at 120th. Protesters chanted slogans such as, “Israel bombs, Columbia pays. How many kids did you kill today?” and “NYPD, back down,” the former chant being in response to the increased NYPD presence on campus. President Shafik authorized NYPD presence on campus until May 17, after Commencement ceremonies.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 9:57 pm:

Senior Design Expo Canceled

At 8:30 pm Wednesday, Columbia Engineering Dean Shih-Fu Chang emailed Engineering undergraduates acknowledging that the “past two weeks and last night’s events have been particularly challenging for our community” and notifying them that the Senior Design Expo was canceled. Chang summarized the next steps for engineering students, including reiterating President Shafik’s messagethe Provosts exam guidelines, and the instruction about moving out of residence halls earlier.

Columbia Engineering’s Senior Design Expo is canceled for this Friday, May 2. The Expo was to be held in Roone Arledge Auditorium and was meant to be an “opportunity for students to showcase what they have learned.” Chang writes administration is in “active discussions” with departments to find different ways to showcase seniors’ capstone projects. Chang states that “every effort is being made to celebrate what has become a highly-anticipated milestone for many of our seniors and a culmination of much hard work.” Regarding graduation, Chang writes that the community is “all looking forward to celebrating graduation” and that students “will receive more information regarding these events.”

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 9:38 pm:

Barnard announced a move to fully remote finals following NYPD campus sweep. This email comes hours after Columbia provost Angela Olinto announced similar accommodations for Columbia classes. Read more here.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 7:21 pm:

CUAD statement on alleged NYPD violence

In an Instagram post, Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) condemned the use of police against protestors and students and called for the movement to continue. CUAD stated that the “student decision to escalate” and occupy Hamilton Hall just after midnight on Tuesday was driven by the University’s “repeated… attempt[s] to use force,” and that “Columbia’s surreal response” to the takeover “turned our campus into a war zone” where over 100 students were arrested and the Gaza Solidarity Encampment was destroyed.

CUAD also attested that “at least one student was hospitalized due to injuries from the NYPD.” The post claimed that after a student was thrown off stairs they were denied medical care.“

Columbia’s attempt to suppress the movement only strengthens our resolve,” CUAD wrote. They called on students and faculty worldwide to escalate their protests: to students, CUAD asked them to “create your own campus agitations”; to faculty, they said “if you do not take action to to demand divestment and an end to police presence on campus by withholding your labor, you too are complicit.” CUAD stated that faculty should strike and refuse to teach or grade until their demands are met. “The student revolution will help free Palestine within our lifetime,” CUAD concluded.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 6:42 pm:

Lavender Graduation postponement

On Wednesday, Multicultural Affairs announced that the Lavender Graduation, a ceremony for LGBTQ+ seniors to gather in celebration, has been postponed from its original May 2 date. The center stated that the event will take place when they can “properly honor [their] graduates.”

They are developing a plan to give students the rainbow tassels typically distributed at this ceremony. They concluded that they are waiting for news on restored campus access to for their next steps.

The full text of the email can be found below.

Email from Multicultural Affairs sent to students on Wednesday, May 1 at 5:07 pm:

Good Afternoon,

We hope this message finds you all in spaces and connections of care and community.

We are reaching out to quickly share that tomorrow’s Lavender Graduation ceremony has been postponed until a time we can properly honor our graduates. We will provide updates as soon as we are able to. We recognize that this ceremony is deeply personal and meaningful for many, and we are committed to developing an alternative plan and ensuring that graduates receive their rainbow tassels.

In the interim, we await alongside you all for updates concerning the restoration of campus access; and we welcome your questions, reflections and feelings. We are grateful for the shared understanding of the complexity and necessity of prioritizing collectivity in this moment.

Wishing you safety and communal care,
Multicultural Affairs 

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 6:08 pm:

Disability Services statement

The Office of Disability sent a statement to students registered with Disability Services (DS) around guidance for taking exams with DS. The office states they are “actively in communication” with faculty at this time and they are prioritizing replying to emails by final exam dates. All exams from Thursday, May 2 through Monday, May 6 will be prioritized.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 4:26 pm:

CCSC and ESC letter to the Provost on final evaluations

At 3:44 pm, the Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) and the Engineering Student Council (ESC) posted the contents of a letter the councils sent to the Provost “early this morning” on Instagram. The letter details CCSC and ESC’s recommendations for changes to final exams and assignments.

The letter states that the members of CCSC and ESC “request immediate action” in response to “the extreme academic and mental duress that students are facing.” It further adds that students have faced “internal and external challenges,” referencing the mass-arrests of students, “overwhelming presence of reporters and politicians” on campus, and “rampant Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”

The letter labeled last night’s arrests as “the most traumatic event in Columbia’s recent history,” citing reports that students were “stranded throughout campus,” restricted from leaving buildings, and lacking “transparency or centralized university communication.” The letter added that “the physical and mental state of our students is not conducive to any form of learning or academic evaluation.

”The letter acknowledged the University’s initial response to student arrests on April 18, noting that the University opted to make classes hybrid and encouraged professors to offer online options for finals. The letter then stated that “these initial accommodations no longer address the full scope of concerns and urgent needs of the student body” and listed its requests for changes to policies regarding finals.

CCSC and ESC first asked for finals to become optional and “[allow] for a ‘no-harm’ benefit to one’s grade format” where “final exam/project grades that decrease the student’s final course grade… [are] omitted.” The letter noted that optional finals “should be take-home, in an asynchronous format with generous completion timelines.

”The letter also requests that the Pass/D/Fail policy be “expanded such that students can opt for P/D/F grading for as many classes as they deem necessary.” The letter further notes that this change “would be consistent with previous accommodations in the face of extenuating circumstances,” referencing policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It adds that “[p]resent circumstances have created an environment that is much more anxiety-inducing [than during the COVID-19 pandemic] with far more proximal threats.”

Mayor Adams press conference after NYPD sweep

On Wednesday morning, New York City Mayor Eric Adams held a press conference, addressing the use of NYPD to clear both Hamilton Hall and the Encampment on Tuesday night. Read more here.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 2:35 pm:

Columbia College and SEAS end of term logistics

At 1:45 pm, Columbia College and SEAS sent students an email “strongly encourag[ing]” students to move off campus early. The email referenced the academic accommodations recently communicated to students, including the postponement of select finals and fully remote exams. The email encouraged graduating students, as well as students “unable to make alternate arrangements” or those who “need to stay through their previously scheduled move-out date” to remain on campus. The email also mentioned that residents of John Jay, Wallach, Hartley, Carman, Furnald, Wien, and East Campus must request access to campus for non-affiliates to assist with move out, in light of continued campus restrictions.

Email sent to CC and SEAS students at 1:45 pm on May 1, 2024:

Dear Students,

The recent message from Provost Olinto confirmed additional academic accommodations and flexibility, including the shift to fully remote final examinations and assessments. Given these updates, and in light of ongoing access limitations on the Morningside Campus, we strongly encourage students who are able to rearrange their plans to consider departing early.

Graduating students are, of course, encouraged to stay on campus through Commencement — as are students either unable to make alternate arrangements or who need to stay through their previously scheduled move-out date.

If you decide to leave campus early, you will find information on the Columbia Housing website with logistical details and steps to arrange your departure and we encourage you to make necessary arrangements in consultation with parents, families and loved ones as soon as possible – or contact if you need further guidance. As a reminder, students are allowed two individuals to help them move out. Residents of John Jay, Wallach, Hartley, Carman, Furnald, Wien and East Campus must request access in advance for non-affiliates (i.e., parents and family).

Academic advisers, the professional staff of Residential Life, and the full resources of the University are here to support students as they make plans for the end of term.

Updates on final exams and assessments

Columbia Provost Angela V. Olinto announced that she has advised all instructors to shift their finals to a remote format, among other suggested accommodations including postponing papers, presentations, projects, or take-home finals, making finals optional, and adjusting grading policy. Read more here.

Faculty SJP protest

At 12 pm, a protest composed of Columbia, Barnard, and Teachers College faculty and graduate students began on 116th and Amsterdam. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered, opposing the presence of the NYPD on campus to protect their students. Read more here.

President Shafik statement after NYPD authorization onto campus

President Shafik emailed the Columbia community highlighting the decision to authorize NYPD onto campus, thanking them for their “incredible professionalism and support.” She acknowledged the “important cause” of the protestors and their right to protest, while also emphasizing that the occupation of Hamilton Hall represented “acts of destruction, not political speech.” “It is going to take time to heal,” Shafik wrote. Read more here.

Campus state after NYPD sweep

On the day after the NYPD sweep, campus looks empty. All banners from Hamilton Hall, renamed Hind’s Hall, have been taken down. All the outdoor furniture (tables, chairs, trash cans) have been returned to their original location. Students can be found studying at the tables near Hamilton Hall. The building’s rightmost door has not been opened yet; there are still chairs inside as well as a bike lock and zip ties on the handle. The middle door handles have been completely mangled. A but one door of Hamilton Hall has broken glass.

According to a message by President Shafik, campus is only accessible to CUID-holders who reside inside and essential workers. Media is not being allowed. She also noted that “Hamilton Hall is an active crime scene being investigated by the NYPD.” Public Safety is restricting access into the building.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 12:35 pm: AAUP statement in advance of the April 30 arrests

After students occupied Hamilton Hall in the third iteration of recent pro-Palestine protests on campus, the Columbia chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a statement indicating that Columbia faculty members “[had] spent the day offering our help to defuse [the occupation] and have been rebuffed or ignored.” 

On the evening of Tuesday, April 30, several students barricading and occupying Hamilton Hall were arrested after hundreds of police officers entered campus. The students were served disciplinary notices that threatened them with suspension on Monday around 2 am and were given 12 hours to accept an interim suspension deal that would leave them on disciplinary probation until June 2025. Students infiltrated the locked Hamilton Hall around 12 am on Monday morning, unfurling several banners, including one that read “Hind’s Hall” for Hind Rajab, a six-year-old girl who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in January. The students remained in the building for 20 hours as the campus was shut down by the University and only made accessible to few students who resided in specific residence halls.

In the statement posted to X by Columbia Classics professor Joseph A Howley, the Columbia chapter of the AAUP reported that faculty attempted to mediate between students and the University but were instead “locked out of [Columbia’s] campus” and “rebuffed or ignored.” Further, they stated that faculty members have been attempting to arbitrate for the past two weeks but were “shut out” by University administrators.

“NYPD presence in our neighborhood endangers our entire community,” the faculty members stated in the letter, adding that armed NYPD officers on campus “places students and everyone else on campus at risk.” They pointed to statutes that require University administrators to consult with faculty to decide whether law enforcement is called to campus. They concluded by stating that President Shafik, senior administrators, and the Columbia Board of Trustees will be responsible for “any injuries that may occur during any police action” at Columbia.

Videos of violence during last night’s arrests circulated on the Internet, including one in which a student is seemingly dragged by their legs by an NYPD officer and pushed down steps in front of Hamilton Hall. In her second letter requesting NYPD presence on campus and authorizing student arrests, President Shafik asked the NYPD to remain on campus until May 17. She thanked them for their “professionalism” in an email sent to students today.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 11:06 am:

FSJP rally

Through their Instagram story, the Columbia and Barnard chapter of Faculty and Students for Justice in Palestine (FSJP) announced a rally in support of students and against NYPD presence on campus will take place at 116th and Amsterdam around 12 pm.

Reports of Islamophobic mistreatment of students by NYPD

SJP posted on their Instagram tweets from a student who was arrested at Columbia on April 30. The person claims that police officers slapped her phone out of her hand. She states that she was “thrown to the ground” and “pinned down by 6-7” police officers. Additionally, she claims that NYPD officers removed hijabs from arrested Muslim students and told one affected person to “shut up” when she requested it back. These reports of violence contrast with Mayor Eric Adams’ suggestion of “peaceful” arrests.

Update made on Wednesday, May 1 at 12:38 am: Deconstruction of Encampment

No tents remain on the West Butler, Lewisohn, or Hamilton Lawns following the NYPD sweep that occurred late on April 30, culminating in the mass arrest of student protesters in and around Hamilton Hall. The building is now presumably empty. In an Instagram post acknowledging the deconstruction of the camp–made at 8:48 am–SJP stated, “The struggle for Palestinian liberation will continue, the student intifada will live on, and we will hold the Gaza solidarity encampment deep in our hearts forever.”

Image via Bwog Staff