At Columbia, the Protests Continued, With Dancing and Pizza

The new tents popped up — one, two, three — on Columbia’s campus. It was a defiant gesture on Thursday afternoon by student activists, who were furious about the university’s decision to call in the police to clear an encampment used to protest the Israel-Hamas war.

If university officials thought that getting rid of the encampment, or arresting more than 100 protesters, would persuade students to give up, they may have been very wrong.

By Thursday night, the tents had disappeared. But scores of students took over a campus lawn. Planning to stay all night, they were in a rather upbeat mood, noshing on donated pizza and snacks. An impromptu dance party had even broken out.

“The police presence and the arrests do not deter us in any way,” said Layla Saliba, 24, a Palestinian-American student at the School of Social Work, at a news conference organized by Apartheid Divest, a coalition of student groups.

“If anything,” she added, “all of their repression towards us — it’s galvanized us. It’s moved us.”

At a moment when some campuses are aflame with student activism over the Palestinian cause — the kind that has disrupted award ceremonies, student dinners and classes — college administrators are dealing with the questions that Columbia considered this week: Will more stringent tactics quell protests? Or fuel them?

The decision by Nemat Shafik, Columbia’s president, to bring in law enforcement came a day after a remarkable congressional hearing in which she said that the university’s leaders now agreed that certain contested phrases — like “from the river to the sea” — might warrant discipline.

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