“We Are Staying Out Here”: Encampment Organizers Vote to Stay Within the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” After Warned With a 2 P.M. Deadline

Following a statement from President Shafik that Columbia “will not divest,” University delegates handed out notices to encampment protesters to “leave by 2 p.m.” or face disciplinary action.

On April 29th, at a 12 p.m. general assembly at Columbia University’s “Gaza Solidarity Encampment,” organizers voted and agreed to “staying out here,” after notices were dispersed by administrators, warning protestors to leave the encampment by 2 p.m. or face further disciplinary action.

At the assembly, encampment organizers also advised protestors not to sign the administrator’s notices. 

This morning, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik sent a statement to the Columbia that said that “the University will not divest from Israel,” which is the primary demand of the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.”

After the statement’s release, administrative delegates went into the encampment to hand out notices to protesters.

“The dialogue between the University and student leaders of the encampment,” which has been ongoing for days, “is, regrettably, at an impasse,” the notice says.

The notice says that if student protestors in the encampment leave by 2 p.m. and sign the notice where students “commit to abide by all University policies through June 30, 2025, or the date of the conferral of your degree,” they will be “eligible to complete the semester in good standing.”

If protestors do not leave the encampment and sign the form upon departure, they will be “suspended pending further investigations,” the notice warns, which outlines procedures and policies regarding interim suspensions. the University may also “pursue action” in the form of sanctions, which include “probation, access restriction, suspension for a term or more and expulsion.”

According to the notice, the University has “already identified” many student protestors in the encampment.

In the case of interim suspension, the notice says, students will be “restricted from all Columbia University campuses, facilities and property, including all academic, residential and recreational spaces.” Students’ “CUID will no longer be valid and will be deactivated” and would need to contact their Dean of Studies in order to obtain their personal belongings.

During an interim suspension, students would also be “ineligible to participate in any Columbia University classes and academic or extracurricular activities,” and would consequently be “not permitted to complete the Spring 2024 semester.”

“You may lose the semester. If you are scheduled to graduate, you are no longer eligible,” says the notice.

An addendum to the administration’s new  policy is that if students are “currently involved in a disciplinary process or have already received discipline,” they “are not eligible for the arrangements described in the form.”

Upon signing the administration’s form, students “accept an Alternative Resolution for violations of University policies by participating in the encampment in April 2024,” meaning they would agree to “Disciplinary Probation until until June 30, 2025,” “comply with all University policies in the future,” and “participate in the University disciplinary processes.”

University delegates are currently posted directly outside the encampment with pens and folders, presumably to collect signed forms from protesters. 

In a negotiations update from Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), organizers announce that they “have paused negotiations until Columbia comes to the table in good faith, without the threat of violence. If the University does not come forward with real, concrete proposals that address our demands, we will have no choice but to escalate the intensity of protest on campus.”

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