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Campus Chaos: Students Across the US Rise Up Against Universities' Ties to Israel-Hamas War
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By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
April 28, 2024

US college campuses are witnessing an increase in student protests against the Israel-Hamas war, with demands for universities to divest from companies supporting Israel's military efforts in Gaza. (AP/Mike Stewart)

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Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have popped up on an increasing number of college campuses following last week’s arrest of more than 100 demonstrators at Columbia University.

The students are calling for universities to separate themselves from any companies that are advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza — and in some cases from Israel itself.

Protests on many campuses have been orchestrated by coalitions of student groups. The groups largely act independently, though students say they’re inspired by peers at other universities.

A look at protests on campuses in recent days:

Columbia University

Pro-Palestinian student protesters set up a tent encampment at the Ivy League university in New York last week. Police first tried to clear the encampment on April 18, when they arrested more than 100 protesters. But the move backfired, inspiring students across the country and motivating protesters at Columbia to regroup.

University officials said Wednesday they were extending a deadline for protesters to clear out. They said the demonstrators had committed to removing a significant number of tents and agreed only students would remain at the encampment. They also agreed to ban any discriminatory language or harassing messages.

Ben Chang, a spokesperson for Columbia, said Thursday that discussions with student protesters were continuing. He said university leaders hope the talks lead demonstrators to remove the encampment, but otherwise Columbia will have to consider other options.

“We have our demands; they have theirs,” he said.

Columbia officials said that negotiations were showing progress as the school’s self-imposed early Friday deadline to reach an agreement on dismantling the encampment came and went. Nevertheless, two police buses were parked nearby and there was a noticeable presence of private security and police at entrances to the campus.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California has canceled its main stage graduation ceremony as its campus is roiled by protests. The university already canceled a commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing safety concerns. The Los Angeles Police Department said more than 90 people were arrested Wednesday night for alleged trespassing during a protest at the university. One person was arrested for alleged assault with a deadly weapon. There were no reports of injuries. The university said Wednesday it had closed campus and police would arrest people who did not leave.

A University of Southern California protester is detained by USC Department of Public Safety officers during a pro-Palestinian occupation at the campus’ Alumni Park on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP/Richard Vogel)

The Ohio State University

Police clashed with protesters at Ohio State University in Columbus, just hours after they gathered Thursday evening. Those who refused to leave after warnings were arrested and charged with criminal trespass, said university spokesperson Benjamin Johnson, citing rules barring overnight events. Johnson did not have an exact number of arrests.

The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas campus was much calmer on Thursday, a day after a demonstration saw police and state troopers in riot gear and on horseback make dozens of arrests and force hundreds of students off the school’s main lawn.

On Thursday, university officials pulled back the campus barricades and allowed another demonstration involving students and some faculty on the main square underneath the school’s iconic clock tower. The group was also protesting the Wednesday arrests.

No violence erupted as a small group of campus police watched from the steps of the tower building. The gathering lasted about two hours.

University President Jay Hartzell said Thursday that 26 of the 55 people arrested Wednesday had no affiliation with the university.

George Washington University

About 50 students at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., set up a tent encampment on the school’s University Yard on Thursday. Later in the day, a group of Georgetown University students and professors staged their own protest walkout and marched to the George Washington campus to join the protesters there.

George Washington University students set tents in the campus during a pro-Palestinians protests over the Israel-Gaza War, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Washington. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)

The protestors are demanding that the university divest from all relations with Israel and lift a suspension against a prominent pro-Palestinian student group.

The university was moving law school finals, which were set to be held in a building next to the encampment, to another building because of the noise.

The university said the protesters must remove tents and disperse by 7 p.m. Protesters stayed overnight at the encampment, local news stations reported Friday morning. In a statement after the Thursday evening deadline, the university in Washington said the encampment violated university policies and that the administration and police were figuring out how to address the situation.

Harvard University

Trying to stay ahead of protests, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, locked most gates into its famous Harvard Yard ahead of classes Monday and limited access to those with school identification.

The school also posted signs warning against setting up tents or tables on campus without permission. Those efforts didn’t stop protesters from setting up a camp with 14 tents Wednesday, which came after a rally against the university’s suspension of the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee.

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt

University officials closed the campus through this weekend, saying instruction would continue to be remote, after protesters at the university in northern California used furniture, tents, chains and zip ties to block entrances to an academic and administrative building on Monday.

Officials said in a statement Tuesday that students had occupied a second building and three students had been arrested. On Wednesday, officials said some unidentified people who were not students were also inside one of the occupied buildings. On Thursday, the university said protesters continued to occupy the two buildings.

A dean at the school, Jeff Crane, suggested during the meeting that the university form a committee that would include students to do a deep dive into the school’s investments. Crane also suggested faculty and students continue meeting every 24 hours to keep an open line of communication. The sides have yet to announce an agreement.

The school’s senate of faculty and staff demanded the university’s president resign in a vote of no confidence Thursday, citing the decision to call police in to remove the barricaded students Monday.

Emerson College

Boston Police said Thursday that 108 people were arrested at an encampment at Emerson College. Police said four officers suffered injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening.

On Tuesday, about 80 students and other supporters occupied a busy courtyard on the downtown Boston campus. College officials warned the students on Wednesday that some of the protesters were in violation of city ordinances, including by blocking a right-of-way and fire hydrants, and violating noise laws.

The school said the alley where some protesters have set up tents is owned by the city, and Boston police have warned of imminent law enforcement action.

New York University

At New York University, an encampment set up by students swelled to hundreds of protesters earlier this week. Police on Wednesday said that 133 protesters had been taken into custody. They said all were released with summonses to appear in court on disorderly conduct charges.

Emory University

Atlanta police and Georgia state troopers dismantled a camp on Emory University’s quadrangle.

A police officer detains a protester on the campus of Emory Univeristy during an pro-Palestinian demonstration, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP/Mike Stewart)

University police had ordered several dozen demonstrators who set up tents early Thursday morning to leave, according to Emory spokeswoman Laura Diamond. She said in an email to The Associated Press that the group “trespassed” onto the private school.

Georgia State Patrol officers detain a protester on the campus of Emory University during an pro-Palestinian demonstration Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Cheryl Elliott, Emory’s vice president for public safety, said Thursday night in a statement that 28 people were arrested, including 20 members of the university community. Some had already been released.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University changed its student code of conduct Thursday morning to bar tents on its suburban Chicago campus as student activists set up an encampment.

Dozens participated as University President Michael Schill issued an email saying the university had enacted an “interim addendum” to its student code to bar tents, among other things, and warned of disciplinary actions including suspension, expulsion and criminal charges.

“The goal of this addendum is to balance the right to peacefully demonstrate with our goal to protect our community, to avoid disruptions to instruction and to ensure university operations can continue unabated,” Schilling said.

Yale University

Protests continued Thursday at Yale, though the number of students involved had visibly shrunk since Monday, when 48 people, including 44 students, were arrested and charged with trespassing after camping out for several days on Beinecke Plaza.

The vast majority of those arrested were charged with trespassing. Classes for the semester at the New Haven, Connecticut-based school are scheduled to end on Friday, with final exams May 2 through 8.

Fashion Institute of Technology

A few dozen protesters set up tents and occupied a building Thursday at the Fashion Institute of Technology, part of the public State University of New York system. Protesters sat on the floor or milled around, many wearing face masks and kaffiyehs. Other protesters outside the building held signs and Palestinian flags. They refused to speak to a reporter. Around a dozen protesters spent the night in tents and sleeping bags inside a campus building. The institute’s museum, which is located in the building where the demonstrators set up camp, was closed Friday.

The City College of New York

Students at The City College of New York in Harlem set up an encampment. On Thursday evening, a mix of New York police officers and campus security guards confronted protesters. But they were quickly outnumbered by protesters, who locked arms and cut off their path. The officers retreated, drawing cheers from the encampment.

Indiana University Bloomington

Police with shields and batons shoved into a line of protesters linked arm in arm at Indiana University Bloomington on Thursday afternoon, arresting 33 people. Police made the arrests after an encampment was set up on campus.

Videos posted to social media appear to show the protest continuing after law enforcement stopped making arrests.

Michigan State University East Lansing Campus

Tents began to appear on Michigan State University’s East Lansing campus early Thursday, with nearly 30 tents set up by late afternoon, and about 100 students gathered near the campus center, engaging in chants.

University of Connecticut

Police arrested one protester and tore down tents at the University of Connecticut on Thursday, after students set up an encampment.

University of Pennsylvania

A small but growing encampment remained in place early Friday on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. A statement issued by the school said officials were “closely monitoring” the encampment, which had started on Thursday, and had not received any reports of threatening or violent behavior by the protestors. However, they warned that protests or speech that violates the university’s policies, disrupts its business, or causes an “intimidating, hostile, or violent environment” would not be tolerated.

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