Negotiations continue between Columbia University, student protesters; no arrests made Saturday

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Sunday, April 28, 2024
Negotiations continue between Columbia University, student protesters
Crystal Cranmore has more on the ongoing protests at Columbia University.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Negotiations remain ongoing between student protesters and Columbia University about the clearing of the encampment at the school's Morningside Heights campus.

According to police, no protesters were arrested on Friday or Saturday, but demonstrations continue on college and university campuses across New York City.

Most recently, demonstrators held a second day of protests on Friday by camping outside the Fashion Institute of Technology in Chelsea. On Thursday morning, demonstrators established a new encampment in solidarity with Gaza at the City College of New York in Hamilton Heights.

Meanwhile, there is growing criticism of Columbia's handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campus, including the administration asking the NYPD to come in and clear protesters, resulting in more than 100 arrests last week.

By a vote of 62-14, Columbia's Faculty Senate on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favor to investigate the school's leadership, led by President Minouche Shafik.

The 13-member executive committee shared a report that cited many actions and decisions that it believes have harmed the institution. Notably, the committee was unanimously against bringing the NYPD on campus to clear protesters from their encampment last Thursday, but Shafik did so anyway.

It marked a significant - but largely symbolic - rebuke from faculty Friday, but Shafik retained the support of trustees, who have the power to hire or fire the president.

The votes comes as Columbia banned a student protest leader from campus for incendiary comments he made back in January.

In a video that recently resurfaced, Khymani James, a student activist associated with the Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) coalition, made the comment that "Zionists don't deserve to live."

Amid ongoing protests, Columbia continues trying to navigate the balance between the right for students to express themselves and the concerns of Jewish students who feel unsafe.

"Students have a right to protest, they have a right to say things that I and others strongly disagree with, and even find deplorable. But protections are supposed to be in place to restrict when and where this activity can take place," said Brian Cohen, the family executive director of Columbia Hillel.

With the end of the school year right around the corner, some seniors are concerned about the impact that these protests will have on graduation. The demonstrations are now getting the attention of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

"I want to know that this is well thought out -- what protections you have, security measures in place, additional resources you're bringing to the table. I need to know that these commencements are going to be safe environments as well, all across the state," Hochul said.

In an interview with Bill Ritter for Up Close, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the college protests unprecedented. Adams said during the interview that he believes outside agitators are behind the demonstrations.

"I have never witnessed the type of hateful, harmful and painful terminology that we're witnessing right now. I cannot recall any time in the period of protesting that we called for the eradication or extinction of any particular group," Adams said.

ALSO WATCH | Mayor Adams addresses unrest on NYC college campuses

Bill Ritter spoke with Mayor Eric Adams about the protests at Columbia University and other colleges in New York City.

You can watch Adams' full interview on the newest episode of Up Close, airing at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning on Channel 7, WABC-TV in New York City.

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