Columbia threatens to suspend pro-Palestinian protesters

    Columbia University's president said on Monday that talks with pro-Palestinian protesters over the dismantling of an encampment on the Ivy League campus had failed and urged them to voluntarily disperse or face suspension from school.

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    President Nemat Minouche Shafik said days of talks between student organizers and academic leaders had failed to break a stalemate over the tent encampment set up to protest Israel’s war in Gaza.

    Shafik in a statement said Columbia would not divest assets that support Israel’s military, a key demand of the protesters, but offered to invest in health and education in Gaza, and make Columbia’s direct investment holdings more transparent.

    Protesters have vowed to keep their encampment on the Manhattan campus until Columbia meets three demands: divestment, transparency in Columbia’s finances and amnesty for students and faculty disciplined for their part in the protests.

    The university sent protesters a letter on Monday morning, warning that students who did not vacate the encampment by 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) and sign a form acknowledging their participation would face suspension and become ineligible to complete the semester in good standing.

    Even students who signed the form and left the area on Monday would still go on “disciplinary probation” until June 2025 or their graduation, whichever came first, according to the letter, which a Columbia spokesperson confirmed was authentic.

    “These repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians. We will not move until Columbia meets our demands or we are moved by force,” the Columbia Student Apartheid Divest coalition said in a joint statement on Monday.

    A university spokesperson said administrators would have no further comment.

    Shafik faced an outcry from many students, faculty and outside observers for summoning New York City police two weeks ago to dismantle the encampment, resulting in more than 100 arrests.

    Efforts to remove the encampment, which students set up again within days of the April 18 police action, have triggered dozens of similar protests at schools from California to Boston.

    Last week, Columbia took no action when two deadlines it had imposed on protesters to reach an agreement slipped by without a deal. It had cited progress in the talks.


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