Columbia University president 'regrets' allowing NYPD to clear pro-Hamas protesters from campus, calls for 'empathy and respect'

"This is a challenging moment and these are steps that I deeply regret having to take."


On Thursday, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik released a statement explaining why she had made the decision to call the New York Police Department to remove and arrest students taking part in an anti-Israel encampment protest on campus.

She explained that the "Liberated Zone" demonstration "violates all of the new policies, severely disrupts campus life, and creates a harassing and intimidating environment for many of our students," and that the decision was not made lightly.

"This morning, I had to make a decision that I hoped would never be necessary," Shafik wrote. "I have always said that the safety of our community was my top priority and that we needed to preserve an environment where everyone could learn in a supportive context. Out of an abundance of concern for the safety of Columbia’s campus, I authorized the New York Police Department to begin clearing the encampment from the South Lawn of Morningside campus that had been set up by students in the early hours of Wednesday morning."

In the letter to the NYPD, Shafik explained that students were "in violation of rules and policies, including that they have interfered with the operation of the University, refused to identify themselves, refused to disperse, set up tents on campus space, failed to comply with policies, and damaged campus property," and posed a "clear and present danger to substantial functioning of the University."

"I took this extraordinary step because these are extraordinary circumstances," her statement to the Columbia community continued. "Through direct conversations and in writing, the university provided multiple notices of these violations, including a written warning at 7:15 pm on Wednesday notifying students who remained in the encampment as of 9:00 pm that they would face suspension pending investigation. We also tried through a number of channels to engage with their concerns and offered to continue discussions if they agreed to disperse."

"I regret that all of these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved," she added. "As a result, NYPD officers are now on campus and the process of clearing the encampment is underway."

"This is a challenging moment and these are steps that I deeply regret having to take. I encourage us all to show compassion and remember the values of empathy and respect that draw us together as a Columbia community," she concluded.

By Thursday afternoon, numerous students were spotted in footage captured by Oliya Scootercaster of being led off campus and into NYPD buses by officers.
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