Pro-Palestinian Protests Escalate on American University Campuses

Protests advocating for Palestinian rights have intensified across major American universities, triggering unprecedented measures by school officials amidst escalating tensions.

Columbia University Responds with Hybrid Classes Amidst Demonstrations

Columbia University has taken significant steps in response to ongoing protests, transitioning to predominantly hybrid classes on its main campus until the semester’s end. The decision follows a seventh day of intense demonstrations, including a pro-Palestinian encampment that led to clashes with the New York Police Department (NYPD) last week. President Minouche Shafik’s involvement in calling the NYPD has drawn criticism from faculty and students, with pressures mounting from lawmakers and donors for subsequent actions.

Arrests and Campus Closures

At New York University (NYU), over 130 individuals were arrested during a Palestinian protest, prompting the institution to seek NYPD assistance due to reported instances of intimidation and anti-Semitic incidents. Similar scenes unfolded at Yale University, resulting in the arrest of at least 45 individuals. Concerns over safety have led California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, to close its campus temporarily, transitioning to remote classes.

Political and Academic Ramifications

The unrest has evoked responses from various political figures, with some lawmakers warning of potential consequences for university administrations if protests are not quelled. Members of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) are pushing for a censure of Columbia’s leadership, citing violations of academic freedom and students’ rights. Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian protesters continue to advocate for divestment from companies linked to Israeli conflict and urge universities to endorse a Gaza ceasefire.

Growing Unease and Campus Impact

The sustained demonstrations have fueled concerns among Columbia’s Jewish community, particularly as the Passover holiday approaches. Students express apprehension over safety, with some opting to celebrate Passover off-campus this year. Encampments at various universities symbolize the depth of sentiments, with calls for action and divestment resonating strongly among demonstrators.

Federal Response and Investigation

US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has voiced deep concern over incidents of anti-Semitism, pledging to address hate on college campuses. The Department of Education has initiated a civil rights investigation into the matter. Amidst these developments, Columbia University remains at the center of a nationwide debate over the balance between free speech, campus safety, and political activism.


As protests persist, American universities navigate a delicate balance between upholding free expression and ensuring campus safety. The outcome of ongoing investigations and institutional responses may shape the landscape of student activism and administrative accountability in the days ahead.

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