Columbia University has suspended two anti-Zionist student groups following campus-wide protests on the Israel-Hamas war that saw walk-outs and mass demonstrations.
The New York institution’s authorities said it was suspending the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) groups after unauthorised events on Thursday that included “threatening rhetoric and intimidation”.
Gerald Rosberg, Columbia’s vice president and chair of its campus safety committee, said both groups would be suspended until the beginning of next term, and cannot hold events on campus or receive university funding in the meantime.
It comes after mass students protests at campuses across the US saw pro-Palestinian groups project “glory to our martyrs” onto university buildings and clashes between groups supporting either side of the conflict.
At Harvard, dozens of student groups signed an open letter declaring Israel “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”, on the day last month that Hamas launched its terror attacks.
Students at UCLA, in California, were filmed beating an effigy of Benjamin Netanyahu while chanting: “Beat that f—ing Jew”, while at the University of Massachusetts, a student was arrested after allegedly punching a Jewish student and spitting on an Israeli flag at a demonstration.
At Columbia, both groups banned by the university are anti-Zionist and were accused by the university’s authorities of putting other students in danger.
“This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorised event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” Mr Rosberg said in a statement.
“Lifting the suspension will be contingent on the two groups demonstrating a commitment to compliance with University policies and engaging in consultations at a group leadership level with University officials,” he added.
Thursday’s protests saw mass gatherings on campus and students walking out of their lectures in support of Palestinians in Gaza.
The campus protests have also become a political talking point, especially among candidates for the Republican presidential nomination ahead of next year’s election.
At Wednesday’s GOP primary debate, candidates accused the groups of “siding with Hamas”, threatened to deport participants on student visas and compared them to members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Students for Justice in Palestine, one of the two groups suspended at Columbia, is a national student organisation that has been banned from campus altogether at Brandeis University, Massachusetts.
Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who is among the Republicans competing for the party’s presidential nomination, instructed public universities in the state to shut down chapters of the SJP last month.