Which US universities have protests against the Israel-Gaza war?

Hundreds of students and demonstrators have been arrested as some classes go online

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A fast-building wave of protests reminiscent of the anti-Vietnam War movement is sweeping universities across the US in response to the Israel-Gaza war, leading to hundreds of arrests and forcing some institutions to mandate remote learning and final exams.

The protests have been brewing for months, but picked up steam after more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who camped out on Columbia University's upper Manhattan campus were arrested in mid-April.

Here is a look at where some of the largest protests are happening:

Columbia University

The elite private university in New York City has called in police twice in two weeks to respond to pro-Palestine student protesters calling for Columbia to divest from Israeli companies and cut ties with Israeli institutions.

A group of students had set up tents on one of the university's lawns early on April 17 to form what they called a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment”. Barnard, a women's college that is part of Columbia, has also been active in the protest.

After police cleared the camp and arrested more than 100 people, a new encampment maintained a physical presence on campus while facing threats of intervention by the National Guard and claims of anti-Semitism.

Columbia University has a history of protest, most notably in 1968, when hundreds of students angry about racism and the Vietnam War occupied five campus buildings.

The university called police again on April 30 to clear the encampment and a new student occupation of an academic building, which resulted in more than 100 arrests.

The president also asked that there be a police presence on campus until after the term ends and commencement takes place. The university announced that classes have been moved online.

Police storm Columbia University hall and arrest dozens of pro-Palestinian students

Police storm Columbia University hall and arrest dozens of pro-Palestinian students

Yale University

At Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, police arrested 60 people including 47 students early on April 22, after university president Peter Salovey cited “harmful acts and threatening language used against individuals at or near the protest sites”.

The arrests came more than a week after a group of graduate students began a hunger strike to pressure the famed Ivy League school to divest from companies arming and equipping Israel.

The student group Hunger Strikers for Palestine had written to Mr Salovey, accusing Yale of “complicity in genocide” in Gaza and demanding that he publicly commit to ending the university's investments in arms firms.

A protest group continued a camp without tents to comply with campus rules, but with sleeping bags and protest signs, until April 29, a Faculty for Justice in Palestine member at Yale told The National.

New York University

Police said 133 protesters were taken into custody on disorderly conduct charges late on April 22 after a protest camp was set up on the plaza in front of New York University's business school.

An NYU spokesman said the demonstration was held without notice or authorisation. The state university called in police to clear the demonstration after additional protesters, many not affiliated with NYU, joined in.

Campus authorities boarded up the plaza with plywood, and students started another tent camp at another plaza on April 26. The universities warned that participants would be disciplined.

Pro-Palestine protests sweep across US campuses

Pro-Palestine protests sweep across US campuses

On the East Coast

Also in New York, protests and encampments were reported at The New School, the Fashion Institute of Technology and CUNY City College.

Massachusetts, the US state known for its many academic institutions, has had several protest camps.

More than a dozen tents were set up by students on a campus lawn at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Members claim the school has direct funding from Israel's Ministry of Defence.

Harvard University students pitched tents on the Harvard Yard, a day after the school banned the Palestine Solidarity Committee group from operating, and days after the school limited access to the lawn.

Emerson College students set up tents in an alley near academic buildings in downtown Boston, before it was cleared by police, resulting in around 100 arrests.

Encampments in the Boston area were also seen at Northeastern University and Tufts University.

Also in the north-east region, pro-Palestine camps were seen at Princeton University in New Jersey and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Also on the East Coast, students gathered at George Washington University in the nation's capital, multiple University of North Carolina campuses, as well as Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the Midwest region

Protesters set up more than 30 tents and continued holding a physical presence on the central part of the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus called the Diag for two weeks.

Police cleared an encampment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on May 1, which resulted in 34 arrests. Protesters set up tents almost immediately afterwards.

Nine anti-war protesters at the University of Minnesota were arrested after police took down a camp a couple of hours after it was set up in front of the library.

There were also pro-Palestine camps and protests at Northwestern University in Illinois, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, University of Colorado in Denver, Ohio State University and Indiana University.

In the South, a large group of students at University of Texas, Austin, occupied a part of the South Mall lawn. More than 50 people were arrested when the camp was cleared by police. The charges for UT Austin students were later dropped.

Protests have continued at the Austin campus and a second police crackdown resulted in 79 arrests on April 29.

The University of Texas, Dallas, also had a sit-in take place over two nights in April before it dispersed. A new encampment was set up on May 1.

On the West Coast

University of California, Los Angeles, saw clashes take place between protests around the pro-Palestine camp through late April, but these reached a fever pitch on April 30.

News reports and social media video showed Israel supporters attacking the anti-war encampment before police were called to the scene.

University of California, Berkeley, students pitched tents on its Sproul Plaza to continue its call for the university system to divest from indirectly funding Israel and set up a Palestinian studies programme.

At the University of Southern California, some protesters set up tents on the Alumni Park lawn before it was cleared by local law enforcement. More than 90 people were arrested and the campus was briefly closed. The school has cancelled commencement after cancelling a speech by the Muslim valedictorian.

Student demonstrators occupied and barricaded buildings that forced a campus shutdown at California State Polytechnic University in Humboldt for more than a week. Police cracked down on April 30 and arrested 25 people.

Outside the US

Pro-Palestine rallies have been held at Sciences Po in France, which has a dual-degree relationship with Columbia University. Protesters demanded that the school cut ties with universities and companies involved in Israel's war on Gaza.

Camps against Israel's war on Gaza also popped up at the McGill University campus in Montreal, Canada, and Sydney University in Australia.

Updated: May 01, 2024, 10:03 PM