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Columbia’s President Urges College to ‘Rebuild Neighborhood’ in Video

Columbias President Urges University to Rebuild Community in Video


Columbia College’s president, Nemat Shafik, launched a video message late on Friday, following a number of weeks of stress over Gaza conflict protests on campus which have spawned a wave of antiwar activism at universities throughout the nation.

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

It was the second time in two weeks that Columbia officers had requested the police to enter the Manhattan campus to take away demonstrators. On April 18, one other 100 or so Columbia students were arrested. The choice to deliver legislation enforcement on campus, and likewise to request that they remain on campus until May 17has drawn criticism from many members of the Columbia group, together with school, alumni and college students.

During the last six months, the college has launched quite a few letters to its college students, school and alumni relating to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led assault, the conflict in Gaza and the associated protests and unrest on campus. However the video released on Friday was the primary one by Dr. Shafik launched on the varsity’s Vimeo web page in months.

Within the video message, Dr. Shafik mentioned the necessity for the group to work collectively to return civility to the campus after weeks of unrest.

“These previous two weeks have been among the many most troublesome in Columbia’s historical past,” Dr. Shafik stated. “The turmoil and stress, division and disruption have impacted the complete group.”

Talking on to the scholars, Dr. Shafik highlighted the truth that many seniors are actually spending their remaining days in faculty the best way they started in 2020 — on-line.

“Regardless of the place you stand on any situation, Columbia needs to be a group that feels welcoming and protected for everybody,” she stated.

Within the video, Dr. Shafik stated that her administration tried “very arduous to resolve” the problem of the encampment by means of dialogue and dialogue with the scholar protesters, however that, finally, they might not attain an settlement.

When a gaggle of protesters broke into and occupied Hamilton Corridor, Dr. Shafik stated, it “crossed a brand new line,” and put college students in danger.

Regardless of the turmoil of the previous few weeks and months, Dr. Shafik informed the Columbia group that she has confidence sooner or later.

“Through the listening periods I held with many college students in current months, I’ve been heartened by your intelligence, thoughtfulness and kindness,” she stated.

“Each one in all us has a task to play in bringing again the values of fact and civil discourse that polarization has severely broken,” she added. “Right here at Columbia, parallel realities and parallel conversations have walled us off from different views. Working collectively, I do know we are able to break down these limitations.”

In a break from what the Columbia group could also be used to from Dr. Shafik, she additionally shared private anecdotes about her upbringing within the video.

“As a lot of you understand, I used to be born within the Center East. I grew up in a Muslim household, with many Christian and Jewish associates,” she stated. “I spent twenty years working in worldwide organizations with individuals from each nationality and faith on the planet the place if you happen to can’t bridge divides and see one another’s standpoint, you may’t get something achieved.”

Dr. Shafik stated that she discovered from that have, that “individuals can disagree and nonetheless make progress.”

The problems which are difficult us, she stated, particularly “the Palestinian-Israeli battle, antisemitism, and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias” have existed for a very long time, she stated, including that Columbia College can not resolve them single-handedly.

“What we are able to do is be an exemplar of a greater world the place individuals who disagree accomplish that civilly, acknowledge one another’s humanity, and present empathy and compassion for each other,” she stated. “We’ve got rather a lot to do, however I’m dedicated to working at it, on daily basis and with every of you, to rebuild group on our campus.”

Earlier on Friday, greater than 700 Columbia College group members attended a web-based assembly of the college’s Senate, a policymaking physique made up of school members, college students and others.

Through the assembly, many expressed a insecurity in college management. Ultimately, the chat was shut down due to arguing.

Jeanine D’Armiento, chair of the Senate, stated within the assembly that the group’s govt committee had really helpful the college proceed negotiations with college students as a substitute of calling within the police on Tuesday. However, she stated, “We weren’t requested for our opinion.”

Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.

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