The Tents are Back: Columbia Lifts Ban on Shelter Supplies in the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment”

According to organizers in the encampment, Columbia has revoked its statement that protestors would be suspended and arrested for pitching tents.

On April 21st, organizers in the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” announced that tents are now permitted to be used by protestors on Butler Lawns after “hours of negotiation.” 

This comes three days after Columbia President Shafik authorized the NYPD to sweep the original encampment on the east lawn on Thursday, April 18. According to encampment organizers, students were suspended for participating in an unauthorized protest and violating the University’s Outdoor Space Policy, and were subsequently arrested for trespassing. 

Students quickly moved to set up a new encampment on the west lawn that same day, but the Columbia administration did not allow students to use tents or shelter of any kind without risking repetition of the NYPD sweep. 

From the afternoon of April 18th to this afternoon, protestors have remained at the encampment through cold temperatures and rain. Though community mutual aid donated abundant blankets, tarps, and umbrellas, the Columbia administration did not allow protesters to use any real shelter that would protect them from the weather.

In an Instagram post from April 20th, Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) wrote, “Remember: The University bears full responsibility for any harm to student well-being that stems from this ban on tent and shelter supplies.”

After being notified that the ban on shelter supplies has been lifted today, the fifth day of the encampment, protesting students have put up dozens of tents.

As an organizer in the encampment enthusiastically announced over the megaphone, “We’ve set up the tents, we are establishing the encampment again.”

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