Representative Ilhan Omar and Daughter Isra Hirsi, a Suspended Barnard Student, Visit Columbia’s Encampment

Omar was in high spirits as she shook hands and spoke with student protestors on Butler Lawns. She and Hirsi stopped to speak with the Bulletin.

Around 1:00 p.m. on April 25th, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) visited Columbia University’s “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” Omar was accompanied by her daughter, Isra Hirsi (BC ‘25), one of the students who was arrested by police, and suspended and evicted by Barnard College on April 18th for her involvement in the encampment.

“Barnard and Columbia have a responsibility to uphold [students’] First Amendment rights to dissent,” Omar told the Barnard Bulletin.

Omar seemed to be in high spirits as she walked around the encampment on Butler Lawns, shaking hands and speaking with many student protestors. Omar and Hirsi then quietly sat in the middle of the lawns, listening to music and prayer.

Omar’s visit comes more than a week after she questioned President Minouche Shafik about anti-Arab sentiment and doxxing at a Congressional hearing regarding anti-semitism response on campus. 

Hirsi, an organizer with Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), publicly announced her suspension last week, writing that she is “not intimidated” and outlining CUAD’s demand that the University divest from “companies complicit in genocide,” and “amnesty for all students facing repression.”

“It is unfortunate that they [Barnard College] have taken this strict, draconian step in turning to punishment and make it so that this beautiful, peaceful solidarity is something other than what it is,” Omar said. 

An April 22nd email sent by President Rosenbury to the Barnard community said that suspended students no longer “have access to most Barnard buildings,” but still have access to “healthcare, mental health counseling, and academic support.” Hirsi has not yet used any of these services.

“I would have to go through CARES, maybe even go through some Public Safety, to even get into the clinic and to be able to access it,” said Hirsi, “so it feels like a lot of referrals when it shouldn’t be. This is an illegal lockout.”

On April 18th, Hirsi said that she had never previously been “reprimanded or received any disciplinary warnings” from the College. Rosenbury’s email suggests that the college will be lifting student suspensions to those who “agree to follow all Barnard rules during a probationary period” and have not previously “engaged in misconduct.”

“They [Barnard] offered us a deal,” Hirsi told the Bulletin. They were not offered to everybody. The deals that they’re offering us are not in good faith.” 

“They [Columbia] have invited people now to vilify students that just wanted to raise their voice in attempt to end genocide that’s happening in Gaza,” said Omar. “That’s where the focus should be.” 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *