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Campus Watch May 9, 2024

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on school campuses.
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May 9, 2024

Columbia Cancels Main Graduation Ceremony Following Pro-Palestinian Protests

Columbia University announced on May 6 that they are canceling their main commencement ceremony after the university has been ravaged by pro-Palestinian protests.

According to NBC News, the university made the decision for safety reasons and that the ceremonies would be “smaller-scale, school-based celebrations … These past few weeks have been incredibly difficult for our community,” Columbia officials told NBC. “Just as we are focused on making our graduation experience truly special, we continue to solicit student feedback and are looking at the possibility of a festive event on May 15 to take the place of the large, formal ceremony.”

The university has asked the New York Police Department (NYPD) to stay on campus until May 17 as a result of the protests.

13 Federal Judges Say They Won’t Hire Columbia Graduates Over University’s Handling of Pro-Palestinian Encampment

Thirteen federal judges sent a letter to Columbia University on May 6 declaring that they will not hire any graduates from the university due to how Columbia handled the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

The letter accused Columbia of being “an incubator of bigotry” and applying “double standards when it comes to free speech and student misconduct. … If Columbia had been faced with a campus uprising of religious conservatives upset because they view abortion as a tragic genocide, we have no doubt that the university’s response would have been profoundly different,” the letter stated. “By favoring certain viewpoints over others based on their popularity and acceptance in certain circles, Columbia has failed as a legitimate, never mind elite, institution of higher education.”

Additionally, the letter contended that “both professors and administrators are on the front lines of the campus disruptions, encouraging the virulent spread of antisemitism and bigotry … Considering recent events, and absent extraordinary change, we will not hire anyone who joins the Columbia University community — whether as undergraduates or law students — beginning with the entering class of 2024.” The letter stated that their boycott is necessary to “restore” academic freedom at Columbia.

UCLA Implements Remote Classes Following Pro-Palestinian “Disruptions”

The university announced on May 6 that all classes will be remote for the rest of the week due to “ongoing disruptions” reportedly from pro-Palestinian protesters.

NBC Los Angeles reported that protesters were chanting “Free Palestine” outside and inside of Dodd Hall; before that, the protesters were holding a sit-in at Moore Hall before police told them to leave, The Los Angeles Times reported, although police did not give them a formal dispersal order. The protesters eventually moved to Bruin Plaza, where there were as many as 200 attendees.

Additionally, UCPD Patrol Division Lieutenant Richard Davis told The Daily Bruin that  after initially stopping them over possible curfew violations, the individuals in question refused to show student identification. Forty-three people — including students — were arrested over an alleged conspiracy to commit burglary. Both The Bruin and The Times reported that those arrested were pro-Palestinian protesters; one student claimed to the Times that the detained protesters were “dropping off supplies for the sit-in.”

Jewish Woman Assaulted by Pro-Palestinian Protesters at UCLA During Pro-Israel Rally Speaks Out

A young Jewish woman who was assaulted by pro-Palestinian protesters at UCLA during a pro-Israel rally on April 28 opened up about the incident in an interview with NBC Los Angeles.

The woman identified herself as being Eleanor, a student at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. Eleanor explained that the assault occurred when she attempted to pick up an Israeli flag that her sister dropped. “I’m going down to get it, it’s being kicked and stepped on, and then I’m being kicked and stepped on,” she said. Her mother told the outlet that “they kicked her back and her head slammed [on] the ground, and for a minute I thought, ‘That’s it. I lost her.’” NBC Los Angeles described as Eleanor as being “shaken” by the incident but “is recovering.”

USC Clears Another Pro-Palestinian Encampment

USC cleared another pro-Palestinian encampment on May 5, which had been rebuilt after the previous one was removed on April 24, Fox 11 Los Angeles reported.

University President Carol Folt said in a statement that the removal was “peaceful” and that the encampment “had to stop.” “Areas of campus were blocked, people walking down Trousdale, our main thoroughfare, were harassed, and iconic Trojan symbols were defaced,” she said. “In addition, university property was stolen, and commencement structures were dismantled. Residence halls, campus throughfares, and libraries had become places of confrontation. Some finals were disrupted with noise and chanting during mandated quiet periods. Yesterday afternoon, outside agitators jumped the perimeter fencing and assaulted our officers … We will not tolerate illegal encampments of any kind at USC.”

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