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Columbia University’s President Cancels in-Person Classes Amid Anti-Israel Protests

Columbia University’s president canceled all in-person classes Monday and urged faculty and students who do not live on campus to stay away, after a weekend of anti-Israel protests swelled and included threatening messages to the school’s large Jewish student population. The extraordinary move was announced in an early-morning email Monday, after Columbia had increased university police presence and taken other security measures on Saturday, to no avail.

“Columbia in Chaos,” blared the headline of the student newspaper, The Columbia Spectator.

The situation had drawn the attention Sunday of the White House, which issued a statement condemning all calls for violence and “physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community” on Columbia’s campus. Members of Congress and local politicians had pledged to escort the students on Monday and demanded police protection.

“I will be coming to Columbia University to walk with the Jewish students,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Jewish Democrat from Florida wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “If the university won’t protect them, Congress will.”

But such escorts won’t be necessary, since Columbia’s president, Nemat Shafik, announced early Monday that all classes would be taught remotely to, as she put it, “deescalate the rancor.”

“Our bonds as a community have been severely tested in ways that will take a great deal of time and effort to reaffirm,” wrote Shafik, who is known as Minouche, wrote in the email, in which she announced a “working group” of faculty and administrators that would try to work with student protesters to allow the university to “peacefully complete the term and return to respectful engagement with each other.”

“These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas,” she noted. “We need a reset.”

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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