Dozens Arrested at U.Va. as Others Show Defiance at Commencement (2024)

Here is the latest on campus protests.

At least 25 people were arrested on Saturday at the University of Virginia, as protests over the war in Gaza continued to disrupt university campuses and puncture the celebratory atmosphere around graduation ceremonies across the country.

The arrests and aggressive efforts to clamp down on protests underscored just how tumultuous the end of the spring semester has been for universities, many of which are now holding commencement ceremonies this weekend against the backdrop of tense protests on their campuses.

Pro-Palestinian students, for their part, have signaled that they will continue to challenge their universities over their financial ties to Israel and military companies; express outrage over the violence in Gaza; and condemn aggressive treatment of protesters on campus. At one point on Saturday, police in riot gear sprayed dozens of people at the University of Virginia with chemical irritants.

Other protests have extended from campus property to commencement. At the University of Michigan’s ceremony, pro-Palestinian supporters briefly disrupted the ceremony and were met by state police. At Indiana University in Bloomington, students walked out of the commencement remarks in protest.

School officials have struggled with how to respond to the protests as they try to balance free speech with campus security. For the graduation ceremonies, some universities plan to set up designated areas for protests in an attempt to allow the ceremonies to go forward without suppressing speech.

Among other schools set to hold ceremonies this weekend are Northeastern University and Ohio State University — both universities that have grappled with unrest over student protests.

Across the country, more than 2,300 people have been arrested or detained on campuses in the past two weeks, according to a tally by The New York Times.

Here is what else to know:

  • In Charlottesville, Va., at least three law enforcement agencies moved in to clear out the protesters at the University of Virginia, who said their demonstration was peaceful. Police officials said two people had been released, and all those arrested had been charged with trespassing.

  • Dozens of protesters were arrested at the Art Institute of Chicago on Saturday, after the museum asked the police to intervene and remove demonstrators from museum property.

  • The University of Mississippi said it was investigating at least one student after counterprotesters directed racist taunts at pro-Palestinian protesters this week, school officials said. The university chancellor, Glenn F. Boyce, said that statements made at the demonstration were “offensive, hurtful and unacceptable.”

  • The University of Michigan has seen repeated protests during its graduation festivities. One person was arrested Friday evening during a protest outside a dinner for recipients of honorary degrees, while the Saturday graduation ceremony saw cheers and boos as people brought Palestinian flags down the venue’s aisles.

  • At the University of Chicago, which adopted a set of free speech standards in 2015 that have been adopted by colleges across the country, the school’s president said an encampment there “cannot continue,” citing disruptions and vandalism.

  • A handful of universities have agreed to some of the protesters’ demands, bringing peaceful ends to demonstrations but also criticism from some Jewish groups. The schools announcing agreements this week included the University of California, Riverside; Brown; Northwestern; Rutgers; and the University of Minnesota. It is unclear how many of them might work.

A correction was made on

May 6, 2024


An earlier version of this article misstated where Art Institute of Chicago students were protesting. They were protesting at the museum, not the school.

How we handle corrections

Emily Cochrane,John Yoon,Ryan Patrick Hooper and Jackson Landers

Police push protesters off a campus lawn at U.Va. and arrest 25.









Pro-Palestinian Encampment Cleared at the University of Virginia

Hundreds of protesters were met with police in riot gear on the campus in Charlottesville, Va., and some were arrested.

Crowd: “Shame on you!” Officer: “Do not touch her!” “Turn around and walk that way.”

Dozens Arrested at U.Va. as Others Show Defiance at Commencement (1)

The police arrested at least 25 pro-Palestinian protesters on Saturday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville after aggressively clearing demonstrators off a university lawn and at one point using chemical irritants on dozens of people.

Like hundreds of students, faculty and staff across the country, students in Charlottesville protested this week in the heart of their campus, calling for the university to divest from Israel, weapons manufacturers and companies with ties to Israeli institutions, and to pledge to protect students’ right to peacefully protest. Tents were set up Friday, but cleared the next day.

In a news release, the university said the protesters had violated school policy on Friday by setting up tents on the lawn and by using megaphones. But the encampment was not forcibly removed then, the statement read, “given continued peaceful behavior and the presence of young children at the demonstration site, and due to heavy rain Friday night.”

Jim Ryan, the university president, wrote in a letter to the campus, “I sincerely wish it were otherwise, but this repeated and intentional refusal to comply with reasonable rules intended to secure the safety, operations and rights of the entire university community left us with no other choice than to uphold the neutral application and enforcement of those rules.”

By Saturday afternoon, protesters were met with police officers in riot gear. At one point, the police used chemical irritants against the crowd to get people to disperse.

The university said it was not immediately clear how many of the 25 who were arrested were affiliated with the school. All were charged with trespassing, according to a police official.

“Shame on you, shame on you!” chanted a crowd of hundreds of students and Charlottesville locals as a combined force of dozens of officers from at least three law enforcement agencies pushed them into the street in front of the university’s Rotunda building.

“This is absolutely obscene,” said Colden Dorfman, a third-year student majoring in computer science, who faced down the cordon as the police sprayed chemical irritants. “This is insanity. Everyone came here with peaceful intentions. I’m ashamed that this is what our police force is being used for.”

Some protesters and their supporters directly questioned the magnitude of the police response, particularly compared with the school’s response in 2017 to hundreds of white nationalists marching on campus with torches.

“What did you do when the K.K.K. came to town?” protesters could be heard yelling, as the police moved to push them into University Avenue, which had been blocked off to traffic.

Even as it began to rain, hundreds of people remained for hours before dispersing. Some people headed to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, where a new protest was forming.

Jackson Landers,Hawes Spencer and Emily Cochrane Jackson Landers and Hawes Spencer reported from Charlottesville, Va.



At Michigan, commencement is briefly disrupted by dozens of pro-Palestinian graduates.









Pro-Palestinian Graduates Briefly Interrupt Michigan’s Commencement

Protesters holding flags and signs marched toward the stage during the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremony.

“Arrest them.” [crowd boos] [expletives] [expletives]

Dozens Arrested at U.Va. as Others Show Defiance at Commencement (2)

On a balmy Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., thousands of graduates in caps and gowns filed into the biggest stadium in the country for the University of Michigan’s graduation ceremony.

As tens of thousands of spectators found their seats in the packed Michigan Stadium, planes with dueling messages circled overhead: one with a banner that read, “We stand with Israel. Jewish lives matter,” and another with the message, “Divest from Israel now! Free Palestine!”

Then, dozens of pro-Palestinian graduates draped in flags, kaffiyeh and graduation caps marched down the center aisle toward the stage. They chanted, “Regents, regents, you can’t hide! You are funding genocide!” calling for the university to divest from investments that have benefited Israel.

At least a dozen officers from the Michigan State Police quickly followed to block the parade from making it to the stage, urging protesters to retreat to the back of the graduates section.

As the chants reverberated throughout the stadium and demonstrators talked to the police, some students got up from their seats and joined in, disobeying police officers who told them to sit down.

But other students — some with the Star of David on their caps — were enraged by the disruption and demanded that the protesters be kicked out. “You’re ruining our graduation!” one yelled. Some patrons in private boxes hung Israeli flags from their seats.

Once the demonstrators moved to the back of the ceremony, tensions simmered, and the protest remained peaceful. University officials said that peaceful protests are not uncommon at graduation or university events.

The chants never stopped — though how audible and distracting it was might have depended on where people sat in the stadium — but the audience returned their attention to the stage as the ceremony carried on.

About a mile away from graduation, a pro-Palestinian encampment on the university’s Diag, a central quadrangle on campus, was abuzz with campers, activists and recently graduated students and their parents.

Nestled between brick academic buildings and lush greenery, the encampment sits just outside the steps of a library and not far from a busy pedestrian strip of shops and restaurants. The occupation has seen as many as 200 protesters overnight and includes dozens of tents.

Salma Hamamy, 22, one of the organizers of the encampment, was still wearing her graduation cap and gown after marching down the aisle in protest at commencement. She does not regret protesting at her graduation — a “once in a lifetime” moment, she said.

“It would feel completely wrong of me to not use graduation as an opportunity to call attention to this. That’s where all the regents are,” she said. “It’s important that they can physically see us. They can’t ignore us.”

Jonathan Ellis contributed reporting.

Ryan Patrick Hooper Reporting from Ann Arbor, Mich.

At least one student at Ole Miss is being investigated after a racist counterprotest.


The University of Mississippi is investigating the conduct of at least one student after counterprotesters directed racist taunts at pro-Palestinian protesters this week, school officials said.

In a letter to students, faculty and staff members on Friday evening, Glenn F. Boyce, the university chancellor, said the school had begun to investigate one student and may look at more.

“From yesterday’s demonstration, university leaders are aware that some statements made were offensive, hurtful and unacceptable, including actions that conveyed hostility and racist overtones,” Mr. Boyce wrote. He did not identify the student, citing privacy law.

He added, “To be clear, people who say horrible things to people because of who they are will not find shelter or comfort on this campus.”

Video captured by the Mississippi Free Press and the Daily Mississippian showed a crowd of white male students jeering and taunting a lone Black woman standing in front of the protest on campus, with one man making monkey gestures and hooting at her. Another video compilation showed the men yelling profane and derogatory insults.

The few dozen pro-Palestinian protesters appeared widely outnumbered by the crowd of counterdemonstrators, though university officials said no one was arrested or injured.

Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, a Republican, approvingly captioned a separate video of the demonstrations that showed the counterprotesters singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the protest chants, though he made no mention of the other video clips that soon circulated. And former President Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, also shared a separate video on social media from the protests where the men could be heard chanting “we want Trump.”

The university has a painful history of racist episodes, and, for some, the videos evoked the mob and deadly riots that sought to stop the enrollment of James Meredith, the first Black student at the school, in 1962. And while the school has shed some of its Confederate imagery, in 2012, two students were arrested after racial slurs were chanted at a protest over former President Barack Obama’s re-election. In 2014, a noose was placed around a statue of Mr. Meredith.

“It is important to acknowledge our challenging history, and incidents like this can set us back,” Mr. Boyce wrote. “It is one reason why we do not take this lightly and cannot let the unacceptable behavior of a few speak for our institution or define us.”

Emily Cochrane



Vassar protesters removed their tents after the college agreed to review its investments.


Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantled their encampment at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Saturday after reaching an agreement with the institution that requires administrators to review a divestment proposal.

Student demonstrators pitched dozens of tents on Vassar’s campus, starting on Tuesday. The liberal arts college is a bastion of progressive ideas with a long history of student protest, and Vassar’s president said in a statement this week that she hoped to resolve the current disagreement with pro-Palestinian demonstrators peacefully.

In the agreement reached on Saturday, Vassar officials agreed to review a proposal to divest funds from “defense-related investments, such as militarized surveillance and arms production,” and to support student fund-raising efforts in support of refugees, according to a statement by the president, Elizabeth H. Bradley.

The divestment language did not mention Israel or the war in the Gaza Strip, as the protesters had in their demands.

But Dr. Bradley said administrators had also agreed to “recruit and support Palestinian students and scholars-at-risk, who have lost educational and professional opportunities” since Oct. 7, a reference to the attacks in Israel by Hamas and its allies that prompted Israel’s war in Gaza.

“With these commitments, the college will work to improve our understanding, dialogue about, and educational programming concerning peace and conflict, with focus on Gaza and the Middle East,” she said.

The Vassar agreement is one of several in which student protesters have agreed to clear camps in exchange for commitments to discuss institutional investment policies around Israel. Students for Justice in Palestine at Vassar, the group that organized the encampment and negotiated with administrators, said in a statement on social media that it did not feel like a victory.

“We are not happy about the concessions we’ve made, but our work is not done,” the group said in the statement, adding that the administration had not agreed to all of the demands laid out by protesters when they launched the encampment. Those demands included calls for the Vassar administration to release a public statement calling for “an immediate end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and an end to U.S. aid for Israel,” and to completely boycott Israeli academic institutions, including Vassar-sponsored study abroad programs in Israel.

“At this time, we believe this is the most strategic decision we can make in order to further our efforts for divestment and Palestinian liberation,” the students said of the agreement.

They said they would donate the roughly $7,000 they had raised since launching their encampment to families in Gaza, and redistribute any donated supplies to people and organizations in Poughkeepsie.

Erin Nolan

Echoing Vietnam War protests, demonstrators at Kent State call for the university to divest.


Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered at Kent State University in Ohio on Saturday to protest the war in Gaza, exactly 54 years after a similar campus demonstration ended in four student deaths.

The activists were silent but impossible to miss. They assembled in a semicircle around a stage on Kent State’s commons where speakers were commemorating the events of May 4, 1970: James Rhodes, then the governor of Ohio, had called in the National Guard to quell a demonstration against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The troops opened fire. Four people — Allison Krause, William Schroeder, Sandra Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller — were killed. Several others were wounded.

The campus still bears the scars of the 1970 shooting. Illuminated columns mark the precise spots where the four students were killed, and the tragedy was immortalized in the song “Ohio” performed by the folk-rock quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

In a speech on Saturday to honor the victims, Sophia Swengel, a sophom*ore and the president of the May 4 Task Force, a group formed in 1975 to keep the students’ legacy alive, also acknowledged the protesters. Many of them were hoisting signs calling on the university to divest from weapons manufacturers and military contractors.

“Once again students are taking a stand against bloodshed abroad,” she said, referring to Israel’s assault on Gaza, which followed the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7. “Much like they did against the Vietnam War back in the ’60s,” Ms. Swengel added.


Among the student demands in 1970 were abolishing the R.O.T.C. program, ending the university’s ties with police training programs and halting the research and development of the liquid crystal used in heat detectors that guided bombs dropped on Cambodia.

Today, demonstrators at Kent State are asking the university to divest its portfolio of instruments of war. “The university is profiting from war, and they were arguing in ’69 and ’70 that the university was also profiting from war,” said Camille Tinnin, a 31-year-old Ph.D. student studying political science who has met with the school’s administration to discuss divestiture.

While Kent State cannot end the war in Gaza, “what the university can control is its own investment portfolio,” said Yaseen Shaikh, 19, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine who is about to graduate with a degree in computer science.

Ms. Tinnin and Mr. Shaikh, along with two other students, met with Mark Polatajko, senior vice president for finance and administration for Kent State, on Dec. 4, a meeting confirmed in a statement from Rebecca Murphy, a Kent State spokeswoman. Mr. Polatajko shared the university’s investment portfolio with the four activists during the meeting, Ms. Tinnin said in an interview before Saturday’s protest. She said activists who scrutinized the portfolio found that it included investments in weapons manufacturers.

On Saturday, in a nod to nationwide student demonstrations against the war in Gaza, Ms. Swengel said that encampments and demonstrations “stand as living, breathing monuments of the willingness of students to stand up against genocide and for what they believe in.”

In a statement emailed to reporters, Ms. Murphy said the university “upholds the First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly for all.”

“Consistent with our core values, we encourage open dialogue and respectful civil discourse in an inclusive environment,” she added.

Patrick Cooley



Dozens of Indiana University graduates walked out in protest during commencement.


Dozens of students walked out of Indiana University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday in protest of the war in Gaza, moving instead to a green space on campus where students had been demonstrating for weeks.

More than 6,700 graduates filed into Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., to receive their diplomas. There were more than 40,000 people in attendance, according to the university. Outside the stadium, the police presence was heavy. Above it, a plane circled towing a banner that said, “let Gaza live.”

The students walked out in two groups. The first briefly interrupted the ceremony, leaving and chanting “Shut it down” and “Free, free Palestine” as the school’s embattled president, Pamela Whitten, opened the program. The beginning of her remarks was largely drowned out by jeers, but she continued without pausing.

“We have been looking forward to celebrating this moment with you,” she said at one point in her brief remarks. She made no mention of the protests.

The second batch of protesters walked out during a speech by the commencement speaker, the tech entrepreneur Scott Dorsey. Protesters chanted “Free, free Palestine” as they filed out. They were drowned out by boos.

Lauren Ulrich, 21, of Rolla, Mo., graduated on Saturday with degrees in journalism and environmental studies. But she did not stay at the commencement ceremony long enough to turn her tassel. Her decision to walk out was one that Ms. Ulrich said she had not made lightly.

“I think sometimes it is scary to do the right thing,” she said. “I was scared. But people are dying and there’s no way I could not do something about it.”

After months of participating in protests and the school’s encampment, Ms. Ulrich said she planned to leave campus the day after graduation. She said she was “incredibly sad” but felt that the protest movement had enough supporters to keep up momentum over the summer.

“I think they will get creative in how they will continue it,” Ms. Ulrich said.

Liz Capp, 22, of Indianapolis, graduated on Saturday with a degree in therapy and did not participate in the protest. Before the ceremony, she anticipated that there would be some kind of demonstration. But it had not concerned her.

“Everyone has the right to peacefully protest,” she said.

Kevin Williams

The president of the University of Chicago says an ‘encampment cannot continue.’


The president of the University of Chicago said on Friday that the pro-Palestinian encampment on his campus’s quad “cannot continue,” a position that was being closely watched in higher education because the university has long held itself up as a national model for free expression.

Administrators had initially taken a permissive approach to the camp and pointed toward what is known as the Chicago statement, a set of free speech standards adopted in 2015 that have become a touchstone and guide for colleges across the country. But President Paul Alivisatos said on Friday that those protections were not absolute, and that the encampment had run afoul of university policies.

“On Monday, I stated that we would only intervene if what might have been an exercise of free expression blocks the learning or expression of others or substantially disrupts the functioning or safety of the university,” Dr. Alivisatos said in a message to the campus. “Without an agreement to end the encampment, we have reached that point.”

In the hours after his announcement, hundreds of protesters remained at the encampment, where they chanted and held signs as counterprotesters gathered nearby. At one point, some pro-Palestinian demonstrators and counterprotesters briefly fought one another. By early afternoon, more police officers, both from the university and the city, were visible near the quad.

The scene had quieted down, at least temporarily, by early Friday evening. Several security guards were stationed around the quad, where protesters moved quietly around their encampment while others studied or walked nearby. There was no effort by law enforcement to forcibly disband the encampment.

Chicago’s mayor, Brandon Johnson, issued a statement saying he had been in touch with Dr. Alivisatos and had “made clear my commitment to free speech and safety on college campuses.”

Like at dozens of colleges across the country, Chicago students have erected tents on campus and issued a set of demands to administrators, including divesting from weapons manufacturers. A member of a group leading the encampment, UChicago United for Palestine, accused the university of “negotiating in bad faith” in a statement on Friday.

The protest group “refuses to accept President Alivisatos’s repeated condescending offer of a public forum to discuss ‘diverse viewpoints’ on the genocide, as this is clearly a poor attempt at saving face without material change,” said Christopher Iacovetti, a student who participated in negotiations.

Dr. Alivisatos, a chemist who became president of the university in 2021, said in his message to campus that the encampment had become far more than a cluster of tents. He accused protesters of vandalizing buildings, blocking walkways, destroying a nearby installation of Israeli flags and flying a Palestinian flag from a university flagpole.

“The encampment has created systematic disruption of campus,” Dr. Alivisatos said. “Protesters are monopolizing areas of the Main Quad at the expense of other members of our community. Clear violations of policies have only increased.”

The University of Chicago, a private college that is one of the country’s most selective, has been praised by conservatives and free speech advocates in recent years for its approach to expression on its campus.

As part of its free speech philosophy, the university also put forward the principle of institutional neutrality.

In a 1967 declaration, the university called for schools to remain neutral on political and social matters, saying a campus “is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic.” But at other colleges, students over the years have frequently and successfully pressed their administrations to take positions on matters like police brutality and global warming.

In August 2016, the University of Chicago informed incoming freshmen: “We do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual safe spaces where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

Versions of the university’s declaration of free speech principles have been adopted by dozens of other colleges in recent years.

“In a word, the university’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the university community to be offensive, unwise, immoral or wrong-headed,” that declaration said.

But the statement also describes clear limits, including a right to prohibit illegal activities and speech “that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment.”

Mitch Smith and Robert Chiarito Reporting from Chicago



Encampment ends at U.C. Riverside after protesters and school officials reach a deal.


Protesters took down their encampment at the University of California, Riverside, Friday night after they came to an agreement with school administrators.

As part of the deal, the school agreed to disclose and examine its investments; create a task force made of students and faculty members to look at the administering of its endowment; and end a business school study-abroad program in Israel, Jordan, Egypt and other countries because the school said it was not consistent with university policies.

The task force will produce a report by the end of the winter quarter of 2025 to present to the board of trustees, the school said.

In a letter to the campus community on Friday, the school’s chancellor, Kim Wilcox, said that his goal had been to resolve this peacefully and that he was encouraged by the result. He said that school leaders had been meeting with leaders of the student encampment on campus since Wednesday.

The school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine called the agreement “a win for all of us” in a statement posted on Instagram, adding that all of its demands were met.

The school also agreed, at the request of students, to review the availability of Sabra hummus on campus. Pro-Palestinian activists have frequently called on people to boycott the brand over the years, as one of Sabra’s joint owners is the Strauss Group, an Israeli food company. In 2010, the Strauss Group said on its website that it had provided financial support to part of Israel’s military force. And today it says it maintains contact with “IDF divisions.” Sabra is co-owned by PepsiCo. Efforts to reach that company were unsuccessful.

The agreement at U.C. Riverside is not the first between protesters and universities since protests on campus began against the war in Gaza.

Earlier this week, officials at Brown University also made an agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters. Demonstrators agreed to dismantle their encampment at Brown, which had been removed by Tuesday evening, and university leaders said they would discuss, and later vote on, divesting funds from companies connected to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

Several days ago, an agreement was reached between Northwestern University and the pro-Palestinian demonstrators on campus. The agreement included a promise by the university to be more transparent about its financial holdings. In turn, demonstrators removed the tent camp they built last week at Deering Meadow, a stretch of lawn on campus.

Jewish leaders, including officials from the American Jewish Committee, strongly objected to the agreement at Northwestern, saying it “succumbed to the demands of a mob,” and seven members of a Northwestern committee created to advise the university’s president on preventing antisemitism stepped down in protest on Wednesday.

Agreements between school administrators and student protesters have also taken place at other schools, including Rutgers University.

Anna Betts

Police treatment of a Dartmouth professor stirs anger and debate.


The video is jarring: A gray-haired woman tumbles, gets up to reach for her phone, held by police officers, and is yanked and taken to the ground. “Are you kidding me?” a bystander asks.

“What are they doing to her?” another adds.

Annelise Orleck, a labor historian who has taught at Dartmouth College for more than three decades, was at a protest for Palestinians in Gaza on Wednesday night, when she was knocked to the ground. Dr. Orleck, 65, was zip-tied and was one of 90 people who were arrested, according to the local police.

The professor walked away with a case of whiplash. But a short video clip of the episode flew around the internet, intensifying the debate over the relatively swift decision by Dartmouth’s president, Sian Leah Beilock, to call in police to arrest students and clear out an encampment.

Unlike other campuses where tents were tolerated for days, the police action at Dartmouth began a little more than two hours after the encampment first appeared, according to the college’s newspaper, The Dartmouth, and students who observed the events on Wednesday.

Dr. Beilock defended her decision.

“Last night, people felt so strongly about their beliefs that they were willing to face disciplinary action and arrest,” Dr. Beilock said in a message to campus on Thursday. “While there is bravery in that, part of choosing to engage in this way is not just acknowledging — but accepting — that actions have consequences.”

Dr. Beilock did not directly address the treatment of Dr. Orleck, who called the message “outrageous.”

“Her actions have consequences, too,” Dr. Orleck said in an interview. “The campus is in an uproar. Neither the students nor the faculty have been as radicalized in a long time as they’re feeling today.”

“I’ve been teaching here for 34 years,” she added. “There have been many protests, but I’ve never, ever seen riot police called to the green.” Dartmouth declined to comment on the incident.


How to handle the encampments has become a grinding challenge for university administrators. Earlier this month, the decision by Columbia University’s president to call in police stirred up protests at campuses across the country.

Demonstrations over the war in Gaza have led to more than 2,000 arrests over the last two weeks at universities across the country, according to a New York Times tally. The arrests have also angered some faculty, who have sometimes stepped in to try to help students.

The police in Hanover, N.H., the home of Dartmouth, said that the arrested included students and nonstudents, but did not provide a breakdown. The charges included criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. When the Hanover Police Department and the state police asked students to disperse, some did and others didn’t, police officials said.

It was unclear what disciplinary action, if any, the arrested students would face from the university.

Dr. Orleck said she was charged with criminal trespass and temporarily banned from campus, as a condition of her bail. The college’s administrators said on Thursday that the suspension was an error in the bail process, which they were working to fix.

In her message, Dr. Beilock strongly defended the decision to sweep away the encampment. And, she said, a key demand of protesters — that trustees vote on divestment from companies connected with Israel — violated the rules for making such decisions.

“Dartmouth’s endowment is not a political tool,” she said, “and using it to take sides on such a contested issue is an extraordinarily dangerous precedent to set.”

Dr. Orleck, who once served as the head of Jewish studies at the university, said she had watched with unease as police confrontations with student protesters escalated across the country.

She said she wanted to be at the Dartmouth protest because as an older Jewish professor — joined by many other older Jewish professors — her presence, she thought, could help keep her students safe.

As the police moved in, arresting students, Dr. Orleck said she started taking videos.

“I said to them, and I said it with some anger, ‘Leave our students alone. They’re students. They’re not criminals,’” she said. “The next thing I knew, I was rushed from the back.”

Messages left for the local and state police were not immediately returned.

One of the short viral videos begins with Dr. Orleck tumbling to the ground. She gets up. She moves toward an officer with her hand extended — grasping for her phone, she said. She is jerked and knocked down again. It is unclear what took place before the video begins.

Ivy Schweitzer, a recently retired English professor at the college, said the situation took a turn when campus security stepped back, and outside law enforcement moved in to make the arrests.

Dr. Orleck, she said, was recording the police with her phone.

“Annelise would never be physical with a police officer,” Dr. Schweitzer said. “But she would put her phone in their face, and I’m sure they wouldn’t like that.”

Jenna Russell contributed reporting. Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

Vimal Patel



Columbia’s president urges the university to ‘rebuild community’ in a video.


Columbia University’s president, Nemat Shafik, released a video message late on Friday, following several weeks of tension over Gaza war protests on campus that have spawned a wave of antiwar activism at universities across the country.

On Tuesday, those tensions erupted after Dr. Shafik asked the New York Police Department to clear a building occupied by pro-Palestinian protesters and encampments on campus. Police officers in riot gear arrested more than 100 demonstrators at Columbia University.

It was the second time in two weeks that Columbia officials had asked the police to enter the Manhattan campus to remove demonstrators. On April 18, another 100 or so Columbia students were arrested. The decision to bring law enforcement on campus, and also to request that they remain on campus until May 17, has drawn criticism from many members of the Columbia community, including faculty, alumni and students.

Over the last six months, the university has released numerous letters to its students, faculty and alumni regarding the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack, the war in Gaza and the related protests and unrest on campus. But the video released on Friday was the first one by Dr. Shafik released on the school’s Vimeo page in months.

In the video message, Dr. Shafik discussed the need for the community to work together to return civility to the campus after weeks of unrest.

“These past two weeks have been among the most difficult in Columbia’s history,” Dr. Shafik said. “The turmoil and tension, division and disruption have impacted the entire community.”

Speaking directly to the students, Dr. Shafik highlighted the fact that many seniors are now spending their final days in college the way they began in 2020 — online.

“No matter where you stand on any issue, Columbia should be a community that feels welcoming and safe for everyone,” she said.

In the video, Dr. Shafik said that her administration tried “very hard to resolve” the issue of the encampment through dialogue and discussion with the student protesters, but that, ultimately, they could not reach an agreement.

When a group of protesters broke into and occupied Hamilton Hall, Dr. Shafik said, it “crossed a new line,” and put students at risk.

Despite the turmoil of the last few weeks and months, Dr. Shafik told the Columbia community that she has confidence in the future.

“During the listening sessions I held with many students in recent months, I’ve been heartened by your intelligence, thoughtfulness and kindness,” she said.

“Every one of us has a role to play in bringing back the values of truth and civil discourse that polarization has severely damaged,” she added. “Here at Columbia, parallel realities and parallel conversations have walled us off from other perspectives. Working together, I know we can break down these barriers.”

In a break from what the Columbia community may be used to from Dr. Shafik, she also shared personal anecdotes about her upbringing in the video.

“As many of you know, I was born in the Middle East. I grew up in a Muslim family, with many Christian and Jewish friends,” she said. “I spent two decades working in international organizations with people from every nationality and religion in the world where if you can’t bridge divides and see each other’s point of view, you can’t get anything done.”

Dr. Shafik said that she learned from that experience, that “people can disagree and still make progress.”

The issues that are challenging us, she said, namely “the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, antisemitism, and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias” have existed for a long time, she said, adding that Columbia University cannot solve them single-handedly.

“What we can do is be an exemplar of a better world where people who disagree do so civilly, recognize each other’s humanity, and show empathy and compassion for one another,” she said. “We have a lot to do, but I am committed to working at it, every day and with each of you, to rebuild community on our campus.”

Earlier on Friday, more than 700 Columbia University community members attended an online meeting of the university’s Senate, a policymaking body made up of faculty members, students and others.

During the meeting, many expressed a lack of confidence in university leadership. Eventually, the chat was shut down because of arguing.

Jeanine D’Armiento, chair of the Senate, said in the meeting that the group’s executive committee had recommended the university continue negotiations with students instead of calling in the police on Tuesday. But, she said, “We were not asked for our opinion.”

Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.

Anna Betts

Here is the latest on campus protests.

The University of California, Los Angeles, said on Sunday that it had created a new campus safety position as the school moves to reopen this week and examines what led to clashes between demonstrators.

The appointment of Rick Braziel, a former chief of the Sacramento Police Department and a well-known policing expert, to oversee the school police department comes as the U.C.L.A. administration and other schools across the country face backlash over an aggressive police response to pro-Palestinian demonstrators on university property.

John Thomas, U.C.L.A.’s current school police chief, has defended himself over a delayed police response as counterprotesters attempted to tear down an encampment built by students protesting Israel’s war on Gaza. And on the opposite coast, a group of professors at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville signed an open letter condemning the treatment of pro-Palestinian students and faculty on Saturday, which saw police in riot gear spray people with chemical irritant.

At least 25 people were arrested on Saturday in Charlottesville, adding to more than 2,300 arrests in more than two weeks of campus demonstrations and police sweeps, according to a New York Times tally,

The way that many universities have responded to protests has further galvanized pro-Palestinian students across the country, who have used public graduation ceremonies this month as yet another opportunity to criticize Israel’s war in Gaza and to renew calls on their universities to divest from Israel.

Here’s what else to know:

  • At Northeastern University’s graduation ceremony at Fenway Park on Sunday, one student wearing a keffiyeh and red paint on their face and a shirt reading “DIVEST” ran up to the stage chanting before they were forcibly removed by police. And when the student speaker for the commencement, Rebecca Bamidele, called for a permanent end to the violence in Gaza, some students cheered and gave her a standing ovation.

  • The police early on Sunday removed a pro-Palestinian encampment from the University of Southern California’s campus for a second time. The university has been in turmoil for weeks following its decision not to allow its valedictorian to speak at graduation, citing security concerns.

  • At least three dozen history professors at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville signed an open letter condemning “the repression of a peaceful protest of our students by armed state police in riot gear,” a day after pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police.

  • At the University of Chicago, student protesters remained at their encampment for a seventh consecutive day Sunday, holding what they called “teach-ins” on subjects from knowing your rights to the history of the Gaza conflict. Students and officials spent the weekend privately negotiating over the removal of the encampment.

  • Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered at Kent State University in Ohio on Saturday, exactly 54 years after National Guard troops opened fire on students demonstrating against the Vietnam War, killing four of them.

  • The University of Mississippi said it was investigating the conduct of at least one student after counterprotesters directed racist taunts at pro-Palestinian protesters. On Sunday, the headquarters of Phi Delta Theta fraternity said that one person had been removed from its membership, saying that the “racist actions” captured in one video were “those of an individual and are antithetical to the values of Phi Delta Theta and the Mississippi Alpha chapter.”

Bob Chiarito and Jonathan Wolfe contributed reporting.

Emily Cochrane,Matthew Eadie and Shawn Hubler

Dozens Arrested at U.Va. as Others Show Defiance at Commencement (2024)


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