Watch CBS News

Columbia University protest faces deadline to clear pro-Palestinian encampment; Why NYC's mayor says there's no need for National Guard

Columbia protests counting down to deadline to clear encampment
Columbia protests counting down to deadline to clear encampment 02:31

NEW YORK -- The deadline is approaching for Columbia University protesters to reach an agreement with administrators to clear their encampment. 

University President Dr. Minouche Shafik said if her administration cannot come to an agreement with the protesters by Friday, she will consider alternative options for clearing them out. Last week, she used the NYPD to do so. 

The student demonstrators remain defiant Thursday, and hundreds continue to camp out in the unsanctioned tent city, where many have been since last Wednesday. They say they will not leave until the administration agrees to their demands to divest financially from companies that do business with Israel. 

Meanwhile, similar encampments continue to pop up in solidarity  and City College of New York in Harlem.

No need for National Guard at Columbia protests, NYC mayor says

As the demonstrations stretch into their second week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams says there is no reason for Gov. Kathy Hochul to call in the National Guard.

"Not at all," the mayor told CBS New York in an interview Thursday morning. "If you look at the actions of the police department -- over 500 protests in our city stemming from the October 7th actions -- we have this handled. You don't see destruction of property, injury to people. We're controlling this in the New York City Police Department, no one does it better, we do not need the National Guard."

The student protesters said Wednesday the school promised not to call the National Guard or NYPD onto campus, after police arrested more than 100 people at the encampment last week.

"I wanted to have a substantive conversation about public safety with the president, with campus security, with the NYPD," Hochul said Wednesday. "And at the time, they just made the decision to go remote to dial down pressure for the students."

Calls for Columbia President Minouche Shafik to resign

The mayor was also asked about the growing calls for University President Dr. Minouche Shafik to step down. 

"The determination of who's going to lead the institution is determined by the board, that is not my determination," he said. 

Columbia's senate, comprised of students and faculty, could vote in the coming days on a resolution to censure Shafik, in part over last week's arrests of protesters.

"The goal is to create an environment where children are educated and they're kept safe. That is the role of the New York City Police Department, and if the school calls us in, as they did a few days ago, we're going to take necessary action," said the mayor. "They have not done that yet, but we're waiting. Just as NYU called us, and we were able to resolve the issue there."

Adams was asked if Wednesday's visit from House Speaker Mike Johnson, who amplified the calls for the National Guard and Shafik's resignation, helps or hurts the ongoing talks between the school and students to reach a resolution and remove the pro-Palestinian encampment from the campus lawn. 

"What we must do, regardless of the noise that is taking place around us, we must stay focused on ensuring that people can have their constitutional right to protest without harming innocent people, and that is what we're going to do," he said. "We're going to have many visitors that come in and use this as some form of platform, but if we do not stay focused on our mission, we will not be able to accomplish the goal, and that's what the police department is doing and the city is doing." 

Due to security concerns, all classes at the school's Morningside campus are offering a hybrid option for the rest of the semester. The last day of classes is set for Monday. This is the last week of classes, and many students have opted to attend remotely because of the unrest. Columbia announced some final exams may also be taken remotely. 

Some students in the senior class say they are worried graduation may also be virtual. This is the same class that graduated high school in the spring of 2020, so most have never had an in-person graduation. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.