US: Columbia University Faces Backlash Over Shift To Online Classes Amid Protests

US: Columbia University Faces Backlash Over Shift To Online Classes Amid Protests

Minouche Shafik, the president of the university, made the announcement of the change amid rising tension brought on by student protests.

Siksha MUpdated: Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 06:09 PM IST
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Columbia University's decision to move classes online for the remainder of the semester has sparked controversy and calls for tuition refunds. Minouche Shafik, the president of the university, announced the change amid rising tension brought on campus by student protests.

Official Statement by Columbia University

In an official statement, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik said, "Students across an array of communities have conveyed fears for their safety, and we have announced additional actions we are taking to address security concerns. There is a terrible conflict raging in the Middle East, with devastating human consequences. To de-escalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider the next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday. Faculty and staff who can work remotely should do so; essential personnel should report to work according to university policy. Our preference is that students who do not live on campus will not come to campus," the statement read.

The university further said it would try to bring this crisis to a resolution in the coming days and address issues and incidents of "intimidating and harassing behaviour" on campus.

According to the New York Post report, critics claim that the administration has interfered with the educational process by giving in to anti-Israel protestors. "It's vital that teaching and learning continue during this time," remarked Provost Angela Olinto, emphasising the importance of maintaining educational continuity.

Month-long protests became more intense following the arrest of more than 100 pro-Palestinian protestors on the Columbia campus. Several universities, including Yale and New York, have seen similar demonstrations and arrests.

White House comment

In response to the protests, the White House and President Joe Biden condemned anti-Semitic remarks and supported efforts to settle the Middle East dispute. President Biden commented, "I condemn the antisemitic protests. That is why I have set up a programme to deal with that. I also condemn those who do not understand what is going on with the Palestinians and how they are being."

The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee has been suspended by Harvard College in response to the protesters.

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