Columbia University’s Shafik faces criticism for Gaza actions but escapes formal reprimand


The campus oversight council chastised Columbia University’s president, Nemat Minouche Shafik, for the way her administration handled a pro-Palestinian demonstration. The panel came to the conclusion that Shafik violated academic freedom and disregarded the rights of teachers and students to due process and privacy when he ordered the New York police to break up the protest camp.
The Columbia University senate held a two-hour meeting and then passed a resolution expressing grave concerns about the administration’s activities and how they might affect shared governance and decision-making openness. The decision did not censure Shafik directly and instead created a task committee to oversee the administration’s suggested corrective efforts in handling protests going forward.

Columbia University's Shafik faces criticism for Gaza actions
Columbia University’s Shafik faces criticism for Gaza actions

Shafik has continued to receive support from the university’s trustees, who have the final say over her job status, despite not being present at the meeting. Over 100 people were arrested as a result of the police action at Columbia, and although though the protestors’ tents were initially taken down, the demonstrations soon returned.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrations were broken up by police at other US universities, including those in Denver and Austin, using similar tactics. Concerns about putting students, staff, and professors in danger during police interventions sparked a backlash from the faculty against the university administration.

Protests at George Washington University resulted in several students being temporarily banned from campus and suspended. Pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protestors were separated by police at Sciences Po university in Paris as part of worldwide demonstrations against Israel’s activities in Gaza. Pro-Palestinian students at Sciences Po eventually consented to halt their occupation in exchange for an internal discussion over the institution’s relationship with Israel.



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