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Columbia suspends students after warning to clear out protest camp unheeded

Columbia University has initiated suspending student protesters for failing to comply with a final warning to disband and end anti-war protests.

The New York-based university, which has become the focal point of pro-Palestinian demonstrations spreading to other college campuses throughout the United States, announced the decision on Monday.

The esteemed university had issued a request for the removal of the protest encampment by 2 p.m. (18:00 GMT), warning students of potential disciplinary consequences.

Columbia vice-president of communications Ben Chang said the university had “begun suspending students as part of this next phase of our efforts to ensure safety on our campus.”

He said students had been warned they would be “placed on suspension, ineligible to complete the semester or graduate, and will be restricted from all academic, residential, and recreational spaces.”

Meanwhile, the students have refused to move an inch until their demands are fulfilled. Among their key demands is that the institution divest financial holdings linked to Israel.

“These repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians,” said a statement, read out by a student at a news conference after the deadline passed, referring to the death toll in Gaza.

“We will not move until Columbia meets our demands or … [we] are moved by force,” said the student.

Columbia University president Minouche Shafik, in a statement on Monday, accused the protesters who are protesting in solidarity with Palestine, of anti-Semitism, and claimed it was the reason the Jewish students are finding the atmosphere “intolerable.”

The protesters and protest organizers have denied these allegations, saying that their demonstrations are focused towards the Zionist regime and its atrocities over Gaza, and not towards spreading hatred against a religious group.

According to reports, there are also several Jewish students who are taking part in the campus protests to register their solidarity with the tens of thousands of Gazans killed by Israel in a matter of nearly seven months.


Columbia University students defy deadline to clear pro-Palestinian encampment

Students mantaining a pro-Paletinian encampment at Columbia University refuse to budge, despite a deadline to either disperse or face disciplinary action.

“It’s finals week, everyone is still working on their finals. But at the end of the day, school is temporary”, one graduate student protester, who asked to be identified only as “Z,” told AFP:

At the University of Texas at Austin, law enforcement officers engaged in confrontations with demonstrators on Monday, resorting to the use of pepper spray, and apprehended individuals while disassembling a campsite. These actions contributed to the already significant number of over 350 individuals detained across the country during the weekend.

“No encampments will be allowed,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on social media. “Instead, arrests are being made.”

Paul Quinzi, of the Austin Lawyers Guild helping those detained, told AFP they estimated “at least 80 arrests, and they are still going.”

Local television footage captured police forcefully removing protesters at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond. According to students, law enforcement employed tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, was also experiencing ongoing suspensions, with president Martha Pollack expressing her disappointment with the student protesters, and accusing them of being “dishonest” for claiming that they had no intention of establishing a tented encampment on campus.

During the course of negotiations, the students were presented with several chances to relocate the encampment or encounter penalties.

“They declined,” Pollack wrote. “Therefore, more temporary suspensions… are forthcoming.”

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