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Jewish students at Columbia University ask to study remotely as pro-Palestinian demonstrations continue

NEW YORK — Defiant students at Columbia University continued Friday to protest the war in Gaza as some Jewish students, citing ongoing tension on campus, requested permission to study remotely.

The Jewish students said they felt threatened by the large, unrelenting protests surrounding the campus gates. One masked protester reportedly vowed to a group of Jewish students passing through campus to repeat Oct. 7 “10,000 more times.”

“We do not feel safe walking to nor around campus,” read the open letter with 97 signatures as of Friday night. “We urge the administration to allow us to attend classes virtually until the situation has entirely de-escalated.”

One day after university President Minouche Shafik tapped the New York Police Department to clear a campus encampment and arrest more than 100 demonstrators, dozens of students took over another campus lawn with blankets and Palestinian flags. They got up before the sun rose and called on their classmates to join them with warm clothes and blankets, social media posts from overnight show.

A large sign from the original series of tents, pitched earlier this week, continued to advertise the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.”

Throughout the day, the protesters continued to chant and dance. The campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, which was one of two student organizations suspended from campus last semester, was organizing a Sabbath celebration in the encampment zone.

One undergraduate student told The New York Daily News that the more university administrators try to “silence us,” the more she and her classmates will fight back.

The encampment went up shortly before Shafik earlier this week defended in front of Congress her handling of rising campus antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war.

NYPD said 113 people were arrested Thursday at Columbia, including several more protesters since Mayor Eric Adams and top police brass held a news conference that night.

Columbia instructed participants to disperse by the late morning. When many students refused, university officials delivered an ultimatum: leave that night or face suspensions.

Columbia officials said Friday that students who face suspensions in general will be able to return to their dorms. Some students at Barnard College lost access to residence halls as a result of the disciplinary action.

With just weeks left in the semester, it was unclear Friday if the suspensions would jeopardize students’ chances of finishing their coursework.

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