Campus Turmoil: The Gaza Protests at Columbia

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Student protesters at Columbia University, before the police stepped in.Credit…C.S. Muncy for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Colleges Warn of Punishment for Disruptions” (front page, April 19):

I would not want to be a college president these days. In past months, the hot breath of Republican politicians led to resignations at Harvard and Penn. Now, the president of Columbia, Nemat Shafik, has come under congressional fire for being too lenient in answering campus provocations and responds in the next instant with a wave of arrests of student protesters. Damned for doing too little and surely cursed for doing too much.

College campuses are boiling, roiling, with faint echoes of the 1960s being heard in some of the same corridors these many decades later. It is an uncomfortable, uneasy, messy moment as students and administrators grapple with First Amendment claims slamming into sounds of anarchy and total dysfunction.

Democracy at its best is a difficult mixture of controls and freedoms. For those tasked with the fragile balancing act between these two competing tensions, it can sometimes feel like an impossible calculation. Now is one of those times.

Robert S. Nussbaum
Fort Lee, N.J.

To the Editor:

Re “Police Arrest Dozens of Columbia Students at Gaza Protest” (news article, April 19):

It’s about time!

These people were not arrested for being “pro-Palestinian” or even being pro-terrorist. They were arrested for violating campus policies after being warned. They were on private property disrupting the campus where students pay a lot of money to get an education.

The people participating in this illegal encampment target people for harassment based on religion and have a philosophy that celebrates depraved acts of violence. No group should be allowed to violate campus policies nor put other members of the community at risk.

Holly Rothkopf
New York

To the Editor:

As an alumnus of Columbia College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, I am disgusted by the actions taken Thursday by the president of Columbia University.

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