Columbia to Hold Classes Remotely Following Weekend Protests

Columbia University announced early Monday that it would hold classes remotely, a move that highlighted worsening friction at the school after a wave of protests on campus over the weekend.

The protests, which have included several moments when demonstrators have yelled antisemitic or threatening language at Jewish students and faculty, have drawn widespread attention from city and national officials and raised safety concerns for some Jewish students.

The actions have also spread to other campuses across the country, as students said they were walking out or setting up tent encampments in solidarity with Columbia students. The protesters at Columbia have taken over a lawn in the center of campus and erected tents draped with protests signs and Palestinian flags.

The university’s president, Nemat Shafik, said in a letter to the Columbia community, “We need a reset,” adding that she felt sadness about how the university’s bonds had been severely tested in recent weeks. She urged students who do not live on campus not to travel there.

Pro-Palestinian students, many of whom are Jewish, had erected dozens of tents on a campus lawn last week, and refused to leave until Columbia met their demands, including divesting from companies with ties to Israel. In an effort to quell the unrest, Dr. Shafik called in the police, who made more than 100 arrests.

Yet the transition to virtual classes was another sign that bringing in local law enforcement may have set off a wave of unintended fallout. Students put new tents up over the weekend. And the response appeared to fuel a crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators who were unaffiliated with the school, some of whom yelled from the university gates at Jewish students over the weekend.

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