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Nationwide Student Protests Against Israel’s War in Gaza Lead to Divestment Vote Breakthrough at Brown University

Pro-Palestinian Protests (Credits: Colorado Springs Gazette)

On Tuesday, college protests across the nation saw huge developments, including a building takeover at Columbia University, a new House-wide investigation into antisemitism, and a major victory for activists at Brown University.

President Christina Paxson announced at Brown University that students would end their encampment after agreeing with administrators to hold an Israel divestment vote. The university agreed to let five students meet with the Corporation of Brown University in May to argue for divestment from companies associated with Israel or its war in Gaza.

The Advisory Committee on University Resources Management will provide recommendations related to divestment by the end of September, and the board will vote on the policy in October. In exchange, students agreed to remove the encampment and not violate the school’s rules around protesting through the end of the academic year.

Pro-Palestinian Protests at Columbia University (Credits: Winnipeg Free Press)

At Columbia University, protesters took over Hind’s Hall, refusing to leave until their demands, including divestment from Israel, are met. The police said they would not interfere unless there was an immediate emergency or unless they were asked to by university officials.

Columbia spokesperson Ben Chang said students occupying the building could be expelled after they brought in metal barricades and furniture to secure their position.

House Republicans announced a chamber-wide investigation into antisemitism, with multiple committees involved. Chairwoman Virginia Foxx condemned college leaders for not doing enough to address antisemitism and threatened consequences if reforms are not made. Speaker Mike Johnson also threatened funding cuts and accountability measures if universities do not comply.

Columbia University Protests (Credits: The Hill)

Progressive groups reacted to the treatment of protesters and condemnations by the White House and lawmakers. The college outreach arm of the Democratic National Committee criticized lawmakers for smearing all protesters as hateful and argued that most demonstrations have been peaceful. Over 200 progressive organizations released a statement backing the student demonstrators and commending their peaceful protest despite pressure and intimidation.

These developments highlight the ongoing tensions and conflicts surrounding college protests and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the situation continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how universities, lawmakers, and progressive groups will respond and work towards a resolution.

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