Columbia cancels in-person classes for today, president denounces ‘antisemitic language’

Columbia University students will attend classes virtually today as school officials hope to deescalate tensions on the New York City campus after anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian demonstrations led to mass arrests last week.

In a statement, Columbia President Nemat Minouche Shafik says the university is canceling in-person classes today while denouncing antisemitic language and intimidating and harassing behavior that she says had occurred on campus recently.

“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,” Shafik says. “We need a reset.”

More than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested on Thursday on the campus after Shafik authorized New York police to clear an encampment set up by students demonstrating against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The protests at Columbia, reminiscent of the demonstrations against the Vietnam War at Columbia more than 50 years ago, are the latest in a series of protests disrupting university campuses, bridges and airports since war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre in southern Israel.

Alongside the protests, human rights advocates have also pointed to a rise in bias and hate against Jews, Arabs and Muslims in the months following October 7.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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