Columbia extends deadline for pro-Palestinian protesters to clear encampment

Columbia extends deadline for pro-Palestinian protesters to clear encampment

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan (PIX11) – A large encampment at Columbia University is allowed to remain for now amid talks between school administrators and pro-Palestinian protesters.

The school moved its deadline for the encampment to be cleared to 12:01 a.m. on Friday. The encampment and weeklong protest at the Ivy League school has gained international attention, even prompting calls for peace from House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Johnson and other Republican lawmakers visited the campus on Wednesday. He said that he supports students voicing their views on the war in Gaza, but not the camp that has taken over Columbia’s South Lawn.

The elected officials were booed by people on campus as they spoke on the steps of the administration building.

Pro-Palestinian protests on the campus began last Wednesday. Students are demanding the school divest from companies they claim “profit from Israeli apartheid” and the Israeli military action in Gaza.

NYPD officers were called in to clear the camp last Thursday, leading to over 100 students being arrested.

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Some students said they feel threatened by the encampment.

Franziska Sittig, a graduate student, said her Jewish friends “are afraid to walk home alone. They are afraid to wear the kippah or any other religious symbols because they might be attacked, [and] they have been attacked.”

Other students told PIX11 News that violence related to the tent encampment is extremely rare and that the level of involvement in relation to it by students is underreported.

“I am black, I am white, I am Jewish,” said Columbia sophomore Sarafina Belafonte, who’s also the granddaughter of activist legends Harry Belafonte and Julie Robinson. “I think a lot of the conversation that is happening around Jewish voices around campus is neglecting the Jewish voices who are supporting the encampment and these protests.”

She also said that “Islamaphobic and anti-Arab incidents” at Columbia are being underreported.

Talks between the protesters and the school are continuing Thursday morning. A pro-Israel protest is expected to take place in Morningside Heights Thursday evening.

Numerous protests calling on universities to divest from Israel have been taking place around the U.S., including The New School and NYU.

Erin Pflaumer is a digital content producer from Long Island who has covered both local and national news since 2018. She joined PIX11 in 2023. See more of her work here.

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