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Columbia University denies claims of "impending lockdown" amid student protests. Here's the latest.

Columbia officials remain in talks with pro-Palestinian protesters
Columbia officials remain in talks with pro-Palestinian protesters 02:32

NEW YORK -- Columbia University officials are denying claims of "an impending lockdown or evictions on campus" and say their talks with pro-Palestinian student protest organizers are continuing.

The university canceled a planned press briefing Saturday, saying it was "a quiet day on campus" as protesters camped out on the school's lawn for the 11th consecutive day.

Those involved in the encampment considered Saturday a day of rest and did not comment.

The university also announced it has banned Khymani James, a leader in the protests, after a video surfaced of him saying, "Zionists don't deserve to live." James has since apologized on social media.

Tent city remains set up on Columbia University campus

The encampment is still up on Columbia's main lawn, feet away from Israeli flags and posters of Israeli hostages.

Protesters say they won't leave until their demands are met, including for Columbia to divest from companies that do business with the Israeli government.

"Columbia needs to divest from any corporation that is profiting off of genocide, apartheid or displacement of Palestinians in Israel," said one student protester.

"I am encouraged that the world is paying attention to what's happening," Columbia senior AnnaMaria Belevitch said.

Student organizers have been meeting with school administrators to negotiate an agreement to dismantle the unsanctioned tent city, which was first erected last Wednesday.

University President Minouche Shafik has issued multiple deadlines to reach that agreement, but has repeatedly pushed it back, citing continued progress. Student protesters told CBS New York on Friday that there is currently no deadline to reach an agreement and they are taking things hour by hour.

Impact of Columbia University protests on day-to-day life

Senior Matthew Rowell can't help but describe the past few days on campus as "anxiety-inducing."  

"Any step you took you saw a drone flying shortly overhead. Every morning, I woke up to helicopters flying right over campus, waking us up," he said.

Shany Granot-Lubaton's husband is a grad student at Columbia. They moved from Israel so he could attend classes at the university, which have all been virtual this week, through Passover, because of the protests.

"It's been really hurtful," Granot-Lubaton said.

Their young son also goes to the campus nursery.

"The last week was totally insane and we felt very unsafe. Our son's nursery stopped going to playgrounds and they're not going outside to play in campus, which was our everyday kind of play and fun place," Granot-Lubaton said.

Will Columbia University's commencement ceremony still take place?

The last day of classes is Monday, and final exams will be taken remotely. As of now, Columbia University's graduation ceremony is still scheduled for Wednesday, May 15. The ceremony is typically held on the lawn where the protesters' encampment is currently set up.

Some Columbia seniors, who had their 2020 high school graduations impacted by COVID, say they don't mind if the university cancels their graduation ceremony due to the protests.

"I wouldn't say I'm too affected by it," Belevitch said.

"I personally don't view it as much of a loss if we don't have a graduation, especially with what they're trying to fight for," Rowell said.

Others are hoping an agreement can be reached before graduation.

"Canceling the graduation of 5,000 people ... is not a means that should be acceptable to anybody," one student said Friday.

"I didn't get a high school graduation. It'd stink if I didn't get a college graduation either," Columbia senior Charles Beck told CBS New York earlier this week.

"Finals are one week away. I had a final two days ago already, so I actually don't know how the people in the lawn are managing," Columbia senior Marc Blackman said. "I'm really hoping that it stops before graduation. I'm graduating this semester. There's only one commencement."

In California, the University of Southern California canceled its main graduation ceremony amid on-campus protests, citing "new safety measures."

Pro-Palestinian protests continue at campuses across U.S.

A pro-Palestinian demonstration continued Saturday at New York University. Police had taken down an encampment earlier this week, but students have since put it back up.

Similar protests are happening around the country. In Washington, D.C., students set up an encampment at George Washington University.

At Indiana University, police arrested students and faculty members protesting on the lawn. There were also arrests in Massachusetts at the campus of Northeastern University.

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