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Protests Prompt Hybrid Learning Shift at Columbia University.

Columbia University shifts to hybrid classes amid protests, prioritizing safety. Remote options offered; tensions escalate; protests spread across campuses.

In response to the ongoing protests, Columbia University announced that all classes on its main campus will be conducted in a hybrid manner, utilizing technology as much as possible until the conclusion of the spring semester.

The atmosphere at Columbia University has been fraught with tension, particularly as Passover began, prompting security concerns. Similar unrest has been observed at other universities, including Yale University and NYU, where dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested.

“Safety is our highest priority as we strive to support our students’ learning and all the required academic operations,” the university said in a statement released Monday night.

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As a result, professors are urged to offer remote participation options or alternative accommodations for students who require support for virtual learning. The academic calendar indicates that the last day of classes will be April 29.

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At NYU, protests led to arrests after the university sought intervention from the New York Police Department due to reported instances of intimidating chants and antisemitic incidents. The protests, which began with approximately 50 people occupying Gould Plaza on campus, escalated when additional protesters breached barriers and joined the demonstration. The university deemed the protests disruptive and sought assistance from law enforcement.

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The situation at Columbia University reached a critical point when President Minouche Shafik announced a shift to virtual learning and deployed a significant police presence to address security concerns. Governor Kathy Hochul visited the campus to address student fears and emphasized ensuring their safety.

The escalating tensions have drawn attention from various quarters, including condemnation from US President Biden, who denounced the antisemitic protests.

Columbia University’s leadership has come under scrutiny, with some faculty members criticizing the decision to involve law enforcement in dispersing protests. In contrast, others demand more decisive action to address the protests.

Calls for action and expressions of concern have also come from prominent figures such as US House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik and billionaire Robert Kraft, a Columbia graduate.

“Over the past few days, anarchy has engulfed the campus of Columbia University,” the lawmakers communicated.

While some urge immediate resolution and express disillusionment with the university’s response, others support the administration’s efforts to manage the crisis.

Both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli student groups have asserted their positions, with organizers emphasizing peaceful demonstrations and disassociating from non-student individuals whose actions may incite further tension.

The situation has not been confined to Columbia University alone, with protests spreading to other campuses across the United States, indicating a broader concern regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its implications on university campuses.

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