What really raises one’s indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering.

-Friedrich Nietzsche

What I would have told Congress if I were in Columbia president Shafik’s sh

Francine Prose, © The Guardian
April 19, 2024

Surely I’m not the only person who has wondered what I would say if I were one of the college presidents who has been summoned to testify before the House committee on education and the workforce. How would I answer their unmistakably hostile questions about how the war in Gaza has been affecting campus life – and about how the university administration is dealing with the divisive and threatening atmosphere that the conflict has created among students and faculty?

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I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.

-Baruch Spinoza

Columbia, Free Speech and the Coddling of the American Right

By Lydia Polgreen, © The New York Times
April 19, 2024

​​​​As a journalist, you usually go to the front line to find the news. But sometimes the front line finds you. This happened to me not once but twice on Thursday, as an epic battle over freedom of expression on college campuses unfolded from one end of Manhattan to another.

The first was when I happened to be on the campus of Columbia University, speaking at a class. While leaving the classroom, I came upon a tent camp that had sprung up on one of the campus’s lush lawns. It was, as college protests often are, an earnest but peaceful affair. A few dozen tents had been pitched, and students hung a sign reading “Gaza solidarity encampment.” Their tactics were a mild echo of those of an earlier generation of students, who effectively shut down the campus in April 1985 to demand that Columbia divest from South Africa — protests that were in turn an echo of the 1968 student takeover of the university amid the broad cultural rebellion against the Vietnam War.

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Two things form the bedrock of any open society – freedom of expression and rule of law. If you don’t have those things, you don’t have a free country.

-Salman Rushdie

Over 100 Arrested at Columbia After Pro-Palestinian Demonstration

© The New York Times
April 18, 2024

The police on Thursday said at least 108 protesters at Columbia University’s campus had been taken into custody, after university officials called for law enforcement help to respond to a pro-Palestinian demonstration and dismantle a tent encampment.

The crackdown prompted more students to vow that demonstrations would continue, expressing outrage at both the roundup of the student protesters and the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

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We are obligated to and very proud to stand by one of the most foundational principles of our country, and that is freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.

-Alejandro Mayorkas

Student Arrests, Expulsions, and Evictions at Colleges Across the US Over Palestine Protests

April 16, 2024

College students have been at the forefront of the movement for a ceasefire in Palestine since Israel’s ongoing incursion of Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attack. As soon as organizing for that movement began, there was backlash against it, including doxxing and harassment at Harvard, attempted state-level bans of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters in Florida, and also the banning of protests and SJP chapters at other universities. In Vermont, Palestinian college students on a walk, wearing kuffiyehs, were shot at during Thanksgiving break. (The reported shooter, who has pleaded not guilty to attempted second-degree murder, remains in jail as the case proceeds.)

Over the past few weeks, several student protesters have received criminal charges, expulsions, suspensions, and campus bans due to their involvement in protests for Palestine. This includes students at Columbia, who say they are being scapegoated before an April 17 congressional hearing to investigate Columbia University over campus antisemitism. (After a similar proceeding in December, the president of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania each stepped down.) According to Inside Higher Ed’s reporting, “some observers have described [the April hearing as] a political trap set by Congressional Republicans critical not only of campus leaders’ response to antisemitism but also of higher education in general.”

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