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Protests over Israel-Hamas war continue at college campuses across the U.S. as graduation dates approach

Pro-Palestinian protesters face suspension threat
Pro-Palestinian protesters face threat of suspension 02:20

Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have popped up at many college campuses following the arrest of demonstrators this month at Columbia University.

The students are calling for universities to separate themselves from companies that are advancing Israel's military efforts in Gaza — and in some cases from Israel itself. The number of arrests nationwide has approached 1,000 since New York police arrested demonstrators at Columbia on April 18.

Protests on many campuses have been orchestrated by coalitions of student groups. The groups largely act independently, though students say they're inspired by peers at other universities. Some universities say outsiders have joined student protesters and caused trouble.

The protests have even spread to Europe, with French police removing dozens of students from the Sorbonne university after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the main courtyard.

A look at protests on campuses:

Columbia University

Pro-Palestinian student protesters set up a tent encampment at the Ivy League university in New York earlier this month. Police first tried to clear the encampment April 18, when they arrested more than 100 protesters. But the move inspired students across the country and motivated Columbia protesters to regroup.

Columbia told protesters Monday that if they left the encampment by an afternoon deadline and signed a form committing to abide by university policies through June 2025 or an earlier graduation, they can finish the semester in good standing. If not, the letter said, they will be suspended, pending further investigation.

Columbia activists defied the deadline with chants, clapping and drumming from the encampment of more than 300 people. No officials appeared to enter the encampment, with at least 120 tents staying up as the deadline passed.

"This is not a matter of simply violating university rules. This is a movement, an anti-war movement. We have sparked similar Gaza solidarity encampments across the nation and even across the globe," Columbia University student Mahmoud Khalil said, according to CBS New York.

Columbia University Issues Deadline For Gaza Encampment To Vacate Campus
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a short rally after marching around the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" in the West Lawn of Columbia University on April 29, 2024 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Commencement is set for May 15. The demonstrations led Columbia to hold remote classes and set a series of deadlines for protesters to leave the encampment.

Columbia's president, Minouche Shafik, faced a significant, but largely symbolic, rebuke from faculty Friday but retains the support of trustees, who have the power to hire or fire the president.

The protest is the latest in a Columbia tradition that dates back more than five decades — one that also helped provide inspiration for the anti-apartheid protest of the 1980s, the Iraq war protests, and more.

Why college protesters are asking for divestment from Israel 02:43

University of Texas at Austin

Protesters descended again at the University of Texas at Austin on Monday. Six people quickly were arrested and police and state troopers were taking others into custody one by one.

Dozens of police officers and state troopers, many of them in riot gear, arrived at the university shortly after more than 100 protesters packed in a tight group on a lawn in front of the campus' main tower. As arrests were being made, police also removed tables that protesters had set out. 

The university said in a statement the demonstrators had "ignored repeated directives" to take the tents down.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reposted video of the troopers arriving to the 50,000-student campus on social media platform X. "No encampments will be allowed. Instead, arrests are being made," Abbott posted.

Hundreds of police — including some on horseback and holding batons — pushed into protesters at the university last week, at one point sending some tumbling into the street. Officers made 34 arrests at the behest of the university and Abbott, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Pro-Palestinian protestors confront Texas State troopers at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, on April 29, 2024. SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images


Police in riot gear cleared an encampment at Boston's Northeastern University on Saturday. State police said about 100 protesters were arrested and would be charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Northeastern said in a statement that the demonstration was "infiltrated by professional organizers" with no affiliation to the university and that antisemitic slurs, including "kill the Jews," had been used. The Huskies for a Free Palestine student group said that counter-protesters were to blame for the slurs and that no student protesters "repeated the disgusting hate speech."

In a statement Monday, Northeastern chancellor Ken Henderson and provost David Madigan said of the 98 people arrested Saturday, 29 were Northeastern students and six were staff.

"The escalation of tensions on Friday night made it necessary to restore civility and ensure that our campus is a place where all students - including the more than 8,000 who are celebrating their commencements this week - can share in full and free access to space and facilities," the statement said.   


Tufts is demanding students dismantle their pro-Palestinian encampment so that the school can move forward with its commencement ceremony, CBS Boston reported.

"We have even delayed some preparations for commencement as much as possible to allow the protest to resolve peacefully," the school said, according to CBS Boston. "But now the encampment must end, ideally peacefully and voluntarily, so we can prepare the campus for commencement."  

Massachusetts Institue of Technology

Addressing the encampment at her school, MIT President Sally Kornbluth said in a statement the school is "open to further discussion about the means of ending the encampment," but said that "this particular form of expression needs to end soon," CBS Boston reported.


Northwestern University announced Monday it had reached an agreement with students who had set up an encampment in Deering Meadow on the Evanston campus late last week, CBS Chicago reported. Those students, like their counterparts across the U.S., are demanding the school divest from companies that support Israel.

Under the agreement, the protests will be allowed to continue through the end of spring classes on June 1, but only an aid tent will be allowed to remain up. Only students, faculty and staff will be allowed in the encampment area, CBS Chicago reported.

On the issue of divestment, the university said it will provide "a conduit to engagement with the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees" by "reestablishing an Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility" in the fall, CBS Chicago reported.

A person walks past a pro-Palestinian encampment at Northwestern University, April 28, 2024, in Evanston, Illlinois. Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

University of Mary Washington  

A dozen people, including nine students, were arrested Saturday after a protest at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, according to a statement from the university's president.

Attendees were told Friday that they could stay if they followed university policies and additional safety guidelines were communicated to organizers, according to the statement. The encampment was prohibited and tents were not permitted. Tents were taken down Friday night, and the protest continued into Saturday, when they were put back up.

On Saturday evening, attendees were told to leave, according to the president's statement. After some time, 12 people remaining in Jefferson Square were arrested for trespassing.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California said Saturday it had temporarily closed its University Park Campus to nonresidents, without providing details of the closure or possible enforcement measures. Joel Curran, senior vice president of communications, said in a statement that USC property was vandalized by members of a group "that has continued to illegally camp on our campus," as well as disrupting operations and harassing students and others.

Students declined attempts by university President Carol Folt to meet, and the administration hopes for "a more reasonable response Sunday before we are forced to take further action," Curran said.

The university canceled its main stage graduation ceremony, set for May 10. It already canceled a commencement speech by the school's pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing safety concerns. The Los Angeles Police Department said more than 90 people were arrested Wednesday during a protest at the university.

University of California, Los Angeles

After several days of peaceful demonstrations,
protesters shouted and shoved each other during dueling demonstrations Sunday at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Police set up barricades before hundreds of people on both sides joined a growing crowd at UCLA's Dickson Court, near where pro-Palestinian students have been staying round-the-clock in tents. Counter-protesters who organized a "Stand in Support of Jewish Students" rally said their goal was to "stand up against hatred and antisemitism."

Protests at UCLA continued on Monday, with about 100 students and faculty participating in a walkout at noon local time, CBS Los Angeles reported. Some of the signs held by demonstrators read "Faculty for Justice for Palestine," "UCLA Faculty and Staff, We Stand With Our Students" and "Walk out for Gaza," the station reported.

Palestine supporters march at UCLA with faculty
Some UCLA faculty joined with Pro-Palestinian supporters at UCLA on Monday, April 29, 2024. David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

George Washington University

About 50 students at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., set up a tent encampment on the school's University Yard on Thursday. A group of students and professors staged their own protest walkout and marched to campus to join them. The protesters are demanding that the university divest from Israel and lift a suspension against a prominent pro-Palestinian student group.

Early Monday, protesters at an encampment near the university breached and dismantled the barriers used to secure University Yard, the university said in a statement.

The university's last day of classes before final exams was set for Monday, and commencement is scheduled for May 19. Because of the noise generated by the protests, the university said it would move law school finals to another building from the one where they had originally been scheduled.

Virginia Tech

A protest at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg resulted in an unknown number of arrests, a university spokesperson said Monday.

Protesters began occupying the lawn of the graduate life center Friday, the university said in a statement. The gathering violated university policy, the university said, but was a "safe and peaceful environment" over much of the weekend.

After protesters took further steps to occupy the lawn and outdoor spaces next to a nearby student center Sunday, the university said the situation "had the increasing potential to become unsafe" and advised those gathered to disperse. Those who failed to comply were warned they would be charged with trespassing, the university said.

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt

University officials extended the closure of the campus until May 10 — the end of the semester — saying instruction would continue to be remote, after protesters at the university in Northern California used furniture, tents, chains and zip ties to block entrances to an academic and administrative building April 22. Commencement is scheduled for May 11.

In a statement Sunday night, the university urged people occupying the buildings and camping near them to "leave the campus peacefully now" and said it "continues to talk to anyone willing to have productive and respectful dialogue."

Case Western Reserve University  

More than 20 people were detained and released shortly after an encampment sprang up Monday at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

The protesters had set up tents on the public green and erected a small sign that read, "Welcome to the People's University for Palestine" as they called on the school's administration to divest from Israel.

Police soon moved in and dismantled the tents. Those detained at the protest were released a short time later, and it wasn't clear if they would face any charges or disciplinary action.


Protesters at Yale set up a new encampment with dozens of tents Sunday afternoon, nearly a week after police arrested nearly 50 and cleared a similar camp nearby. They were notified by a Yale official that they could face discipline, including suspension, and possible arrest, protesters and school officials said. No deadline to leave was set.

Yale said in a statement Monday that it supports peaceful protests and freedom of speech but does not tolerate policy violations. School officials said the protest is near residential colleges where students are studying for final exams, and permission must be granted for groups to hold events and put up structures on campus.

Pro-Palestinian Protests Continue On US College Campuses
Pro-Palestinian signage displayed at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Joe Buglewicz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Dozens of people idled at an encampment protest at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday. Students and other community members sat on blankets chatting while another small group sat around a woman dancing with a keffiyeh, a traditional Arab headscarf. The tents were set up Sunday after a march urging the university to divest from Israel.

University of Washington

Students at the University of Washington in Seattle set up an encampment Monday morning in front of Miller Hall. About six tents were visible on the grassy area despite a sign that said "no camping allowed" in large letters. The few dozen protesters pinned banners to their tents in support of Gaza under a light drizzle. They are demanding the university cut ties with Boeing, which was founded in Seattle and makes products used by the Israel Defense Forces, and cut ties with study abroad programs that operate in Israel. There was no sign of police activity.

University of Georgia

Police arrested protesters on Monday who tried to set up an encampment at the University of Georgia in Athens.

A spokesperson wouldn't say how many people were arrested on the final day of classes before spring exams at the university northeast of Atlanta. Athens-Clarke County jail records showed 12 people had been booked into the jail by mid-afternoon by University of Georgia police on criminal trespassing charges. State troopers aided university police.

The Red and Black student newspaper reported 16 people were detained at the site.

University President Jere Morehead said in a statement that students were given the chance to make a reservation for a designated protest area and that university police "were left with no choice but to arrest those who refused to comply." He said any students, faculty or employees who were arrested could face university discipline in addition to criminal penalties.

Emory University

After 28 people were apprehended last week at the private Emory University in Atlanta, university President Gregory Fenves on Monday apologized for officials initially claiming that the protesters were from outside the university. Officials determined 22 were Emory students or employees. Fenves said he was ordering a review of when the university should turn to outside police agencies after photos and videos showed people being tackled to the ground and shocked with electric stun guns.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Students at VCU on Monday established what they called a "Liberated Zone for Gaza" on the Richmond, Virginia, campus. After several hours, police in riot gear arrived and began arresting demonstrators.

Video posted to social media showed police appearing to use chemical spray to clear the crowd as a campus emergency siren sounds. 

"Final exams begin this week and VCU must provide students the opportunity to safely and successfully complete the semester," the school said in a statement. "The gathering violated several university policies."

VCU said it "respectfully and repeatedly" asked protestors to leave. "Those who did not leave were subject to arrest for trespassing," it said.

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