Columbia University senate calls for investigation into administration

Columbia University senate calls for investigation into administration
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NEW YORK (PIX11) — With the university senate calling for an investigation into acts that President Minouche Shafik has taken against protesters and faculty, Friday saw many new developments in the ongoing protests at Columbia University over the war in Gaza.

Among other new developments on Friday, Jewish voices on campus calling for the release of Israeli hostages and condemning acts of violence against students are becoming more prominent. Also, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited protesters at the tent encampment on campus. A student leader of the tent encampment that has been at the center of the protest also apologized for a video recorded in January in which they said, “be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists.”

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Meanwhile, just off-campus, tensions continue to flare, with a strong police presence monitoring non-student demonstrators and separating them at times.

The scene at the central campus of the Ivy League university continues to evolve. On Friday, where there had once been only the tent encampment protesting Israeli attacks in Gaza, there are other displays, including hundreds of Israeli flags of varying sizes flying on a lawn in the middle of a main cross-campus passageway. On an adjacent lawn is another display of flags arranged in the shape of a Star of David. Dozens of posters of Israeli hostages are on the stone walls just outside of the pro-Palestinian tent encampment.

Still, some Jewish students say they do not feel safe. One student, Jonathan Swill, pointed out that a large Israeli flag, a large American flag, and a large banner calling for the hostages’ release had been removed from the area next to the tent encampment Thursday night.

He also said that he has not felt secure on campus since an incident last November.

“I had a pin on the back of my backpack that said, ‘Israel Always and Forever,'” he said. “Somebody grabbed the back of my backpack. It was a guy wearing a keffiyeh covering his face,” he said, referring to an Arab head covering.

At the encampment, meanwhile, some student leaders said they feel threatened as well.

“Multiple death threats, being harassed for wearing keffiyeh, doxed, stereotyped,” said one student leader in a statement at the camp, “Being treated differently by high-ranking administrators, including the president.”

He was referring to Columbia University President Minouch Shafik. Just before 7:00 Friday night, the university senate voted to approve a resolution calling for an investigation into the school’s leadership in the wake of Shafik’s actions related to the tent encampment and other issues.

On Thursday of last week, a day after students had set up the tents on a lawn in front of the main library, Shafik called in the NYPD to clear out the encampment and to arrest more than 100 students. They were subsequently suspended.

In a statement issued after the senate vote, a Columbia spokesperson said that the administration and the senate “share the same goal of restoring calm to campus so everyone can pursue their educational activities. We are committed to an ongoing dialogue and appreciate the Senate’s constructive engagement in finding a pathway forward.”

University commencement exercises are still scheduled for May 15.

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