Early preparation for US colleges as 2,000 arrested in protests: Live updates

5:58 PM ET, May 3, 2024

Columbia University president says he’ll work every day to rebuild after 2 tough weeks

From CNN’s Michelle Watson and Gloria Pazmino



Columbia University President Minuch Shafik prepares to testify before the House Education and Personnel Committee during a hearing on Columbia University’s response to a counterclaim on April 17 in Washington, D.C.

Francis Chung/POLITICO/AP/File

President Minoch Shafiq said the group of protesters who occupied Hamilton Hall on the Columbia University campus had “crossed a new frontier.” said in a video message X was released on Friday.

The past two weeks on campus have been “the most difficult in Columbia’s history,” Shafiq said.

“Turbulence and tension, division and disruption have affected the entire society,” Shafiq said in the over three-minute-long message.

Columbia University students “paid an especially heavy price” as a result of the protests, he said.

“You lost your final days in the classroom and the residence halls. For those of you who are seniors, you’re finishing college the way you started it online,” Shafiq said.

The university tried several times to find a negotiated solution, Shafiq said.

“Academic leaders spent eight days and nights talking to students,” he said. “(The) university made a sincere and good offer, but it was not accepted.”

While many of the protesters on campus were mostly peaceful and “deeply concerned,” the group occupying Hamilton Hall “crossed a new line,” Shabig said.

Shafiq said the aggression is an “act of violence” that affects the safety of students.

“Each of us has a role to play in bringing back the values ​​of truth and civil discourse that polarization has severely damaged. Here in Colombia, parallel realities and parallel conversations have pushed us away from other perspectives,” said Shafiq.

Shafiq said he was born in the Middle East to “a Muslim family with many Jewish and Christian friends.” Shafiq said that through his two decades of international work he realized that “people can disagree and still go forward”.

“The issues that challenge us are the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, anti-Semitism and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias,” Shafiq said. “And Colombia, despite being a significant institution, cannot solve them single-handedly.”

Shafiq urged the students to set an example for a better world in which those who disagree “do it civilly”.

“We have a lot to do, but I’m committed to working on it every day and working with each of you to rebuild the community on our campus.”

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