Colombia tells protesters to clear camp or face suspension

Columbia University has given students until 2pm on Monday to leave a pro-Palestinian encampment occupying the Central Lawn on its campus, warning them they face immediate suspension if they don't leave by then.

The move, at the request of Columbia administrators on April 18, was an attempt to dismantle the encampment without calling the police, prompting the arrest of more than 100 students and an international movement to create similar encampments on dozens of university and college campuses. .

On Monday morning, the students at the camp received a notice from the administrators saying that talks with the student protest leaders were deadlocked. It urged students to leave voluntarily to allow the school to prepare the lawn for the May 15 graduation ceremonies.

“The ongoing unauthorized camping and disturbances on the Columbia University campus create an unwelcoming environment for members of our community,” the notice said. “Please collect your belongings immediately and leave the camp.”

Students will not be penalized for participating in the camp if they sign a form promising not to violate university rules by the end of the next academic year. Students at the camp already face discipline from previous violations, but those who are there anyway will not be eligible for the same deal, the document says.

The notice also warned that even if students signed the form, they could still be held liable for discrimination and harassment charges stemming from attending the camp.

For those who did not leave, it was not immediately clear how Colombia would implement the removal of the camp. Last Friday, Colombia's President Nemat Shafik, A Report Everyone refused, except for the community to call the police again to evacuate the place.

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“We have called on the NYPD to remove the encampment once and for all,” he wrote in a statement co-signed by the co-chairs of Columbia's board of trustees. , bringing back the NYPD at this time would be counterproductive and would further fuel what is happening on campus and bring thousands to our doorsteps threatening our community.

Mahmoud Khalil, a graduate student and lead negotiator on behalf of Columbia University's Apartheid Divest, the student coalition that organized the camp, called the deadline “another intimidation tactic by the university.”

“The university is treating the matter as a disciplinary issue and not as a move to withdraw from the war,” he said.

He said a camp would be held in the afternoon to discuss the next steps. Last week, the university threatened to crack down, but then backed off after taking time to negotiate, with some students choosing to stay and others to leave.

Anna Betts Contributed report.

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