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An American tradition returns: College campuses erupt in protest against Israel’s war with Hamas

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Perhaps reminiscent of protests on college campuses in the 1970s to show American youth’s disfavor of the war in Vietnam, students in spring 2024 are protesting Israel‘s war with Hamas.

The number of college campuses with live protests are increasing across the United States after the arrest of more than 100 demonstrators at Columbia University last week, according to the Associated Press.

At the heart of the protests is the desire of college students to make sure their universities are not supporting companies that advance Israel’s military efforts in Gaza or support Israel at all.

Cal Tech, NYU, Emerson College, Columbia University, the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State, even Harvard have all reported the response of police to students setting up tents and protesting.

Last week, pro-Palestinian students set up tents and police attempted to clear the encampment on Thursday by arresting more than 100 students. However, the action backfired and inspire more students across American academia and motivated Columbia students to regroup. University officials today said they would extend the deadline for protesters to clear the tent encampment.

Jewish students at Columbia met today with U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson in person about the antisemitism on college campuses.

Texas state troopers and police formed a line today to prevent students at the University of Texas at Austin from marching through campus. When they clashed with protesters, many were detained. According to protestors, a walkout was planned and a march to the main campus lawn where events would be hosted the rest of the afternoon. A university statement said the school would “not tolerate disruptions.”

Tents were removed at the University of Southern California today by police but then they got into a tug-of-war with protestors before falling back. When USC police detained a man and put him in a vehicle, a crowd surrounded the car and chanted “Let him go!” Police released the man and protesters then marched in a circle.

Approximately 50 protestors gathered at Ohio State University yesterday in the campus amphitheater to share stories of their connections with Palestinians. They then marched. Some students were arrested.

Harvard University attempted to stay ahead of the protest trend by locking most of the gates into Harvard Yard before classes began Monday. Access was limited to individuals with student IDs and warning signs were posted about setting up tents or tables without permission. Yet, protestors set up 14 tents today after a rally against Harvard’s suspension of the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee.

At Cal Tech, furniture, tents, chains and zip ties were used by students to block entrances to academic and administrative buildings on Monday. They chanted: “We are not afraid of you!” before officers in riot gear pushed into them at the building’s entrance, according to video. Instruction went remote after university officials closed the campus through the weekend.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.