05/28/2024

Students at Columbia University were told in an overnight statement that all classes will be held virtually on Monday as anti-Israel protesters have taken over the campus, its president announced.

Columbia University President Dr. Nemat “Minouche” Shafik said in a statement posted in the early hours Monday morning, that she was “deeply saddened” by certain actions of agitators, who have formed an “encampment” on the campus and have riled students and faculty with anti-Jewish slogans and chants.

“I am deeply saddened by what is happening on our campus,” Shafik wrote. “Our bonds as a community have been severely tested in ways that will take a great deal of time and effort to reaffirm. Students across an array of communities have conveyed fears for their safety and we have announced additional actions we are taking to address security concerns. The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days. These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas.”

“We need a reset,” she added. “To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday. Faculty and staff who can work remotely should do so; essential personnel should report to work according to university policy. Our preference is that students who do not live on campus will not come to campus.

The Columbia University president then condemned “Antisemitic language” used by protesters and the “intimidating and harassing behavior on our campus.” She also offered those staging the protests on campus to “sit down and talk” with those who they differ with.

“There is a terrible conflict raging in the Middle East with devastating human consequences. I understand that many are experiencing deep moral distress and want Columbia to help alleviate this by taking action. We should be having serious conversations about how Columbia can contribute. There will be many views across our diverse community about how best to do this and that is as it should be. But we cannot have one group dictate terms and attempt to disrupt important milestones like graduation to advance their point of view. Let’s sit down and talk and argue and find ways to compromise on solutions,” Shafik said in the overnight statement.

Shafik also said she was hoping the school “will try to bring this crisis to a resolution” in the coming days.