Negotiations Continue Between Columbia’s Administration and Student Protesters

As the Gaza Solidarity Encampment enters its tenth day on the West Lawn of Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus, negotiations continue between university officials and student protesters.


“We have our demands, they have theirs. A formal process is underway and continues,” the Office of the President said in an email on Thursday night after a relatively calm evening inside the campus gates, where security is tight and entry to the area is restricted to Columbia ID holders.


Officials also denied that they had once again invited the NYPD into campus to dismantle the encampment. Police officers arrested more than 100 individuals on April 18, when the original camp was cleared at the request of Columbia President Minouche Shafik.


Since the demonstrations started, a select group of faculty, administration and University Senators have been in dialogue with student organizers to negotiate the encampment’s dismantlement.


Demanding that the university divests from interests connected to Israel and calling Israel’s latest offensive in Gaza “a genocide,” Columbia students camping at the heart of the campus since April 17 have spurred a nationwide protest movement that has expanded to other colleges, including CUNY, NYU, the New School and Fordham in New York, and Emory, Brown, UCLA, Northwestern, Harvard, MIT and University of Michigan.


Right outside the gates, different groups of protesters clashed on Thursday evening, including members of the Proud Boys – an exclusively male, far-right, neo-fascist militant organization – who marched along Amsterdam Avenue and 116th Street, yelling racial slurs to passersby. A few arrests were made.


Early in the afternoon, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, visited the encampment with her daughter Isra Hirsi, a student at Barnard College. Hirsi, 21, was among those suspended and arrested last week. She was released shortly after.


On Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johsnon met with Shafik and a group of Jewish students worried about some documented incidents of antisemitism inside and outside of the campus gates. At a press conference afterwards, in front of a booing crowd, he suggested having the National Guard come into campus to restore order. Republicans in Congress have heavily criticized Columbia officials for their handling of the protests. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who also visited the campus this week, denied having any plans of sending the National Guard.

About the author(s)

Francesca is an Italian reporter covering politics for City Newsroom. She has reported in print, web, audio and video. Francesca speaks three languages.

Edward Lopez is from Fresno, California. He currently reports on New York City and is pursuing a Master's Degree in journalism.