Columbia University Will Not Divest From Israel, President Says
Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, testifies during the House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing titled "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism," in Rayburn building on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Columbia University will not divest from Israel, a top official at the Ivy League school said on Monday, rejecting a key demand of pro-Palestinian protesters who have set up camp at the New York City campus over the past couple of weeks.

In a statement posted on the university’s website, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik said that talks between a small group of academic leaders and student organizers that began last week had broken down.

“Regretfully, we were not able to come to an agreement,” Shafik said, noting that the negotiators had sought a “path that would result in the dismantling of the encampment and adherence to University policies going forward.”

Shafik said the university’s goal for the talks was to find a “collaborative resolution” that would bring an end to an encampment on a school lawn and a commitment from protesters to adhere to rules for demonstrations and events going forward.

“While the University will not divest from Israel, the University offered to develop an expedited timeline for review of new proposals from the students by the Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing, the body that considers divestment matters,” Shafik said.

Shafik said additional offers entailed making available a list of Columbia’s investment holdings, convening a faculty committee to tackle “academic freedom” and “financial barriers” to educational programs, and investments to health and education in Gaza, “including supporting early childhood development and support for displaced scholars.”

Reports of anti-Semitic harassment led a campus rabbi to warn Jewish students to go home for safety. As efforts to uproot tents and detain protesters failed to quell the demonstrations, Colombia shifted to remote learning and hybrid classes at the main campus.

Columbia is still planning on holding a commencement — scheduled for May 15 — as Shafik said, “We owe it to all of our graduates and their loved ones to honor their achievement.”


Shafik concluded by saying, “We urge those in the encampment to voluntarily disperse. We are consulting with a broader group in our community to explore alternative internal options to end this crisis as soon as possible. We will continue to update the community with new developments.”

A notice from the university gave students a 2 p.m. deadline to leave the encampment and sign a pledge to abide by university policies or face suspension and ineligibility to finish the semester in good standing.

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