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College campuses struggle to find right way to deal with protests

Four years ago, the high school graduating class of 2020 had their graduation canceled due to a devastating, unforeseeable circumstance. Now as they have dealt with college life, it is finally time for their first official graduation. But even years later this bad luck continues to follow them as they are now cheated out of their college graduation.

Activists around the world have been protesting at colleges to get them to divest any funds they have put into Israeli companies. Any college that has an affiliation with an Israel company has been met with protesters who fight for the cause they believe in. They have been asking that instead of investing into Israeli companies, to put money into supporting Gaza. Students around the world have been influenced by their peers in the United States and have joined in on this issue.

The fear of graduation being disrupted by protesters is what caused colleges to cancel it all together. There is also a risk of the protests turning into riots. Although the odds of this happening is very low, there still is always the looming threat. 

The riot that took place at Columbia University frightened many other schools into a compromise. Protesters flooded Columbia’s Hamilton Hall and renamed it “Hind’s Hall” after a six-year-old girl who died in an Israeli attack. Activists inside had barricaded themselves in and broken multiple windows. Police’s desperate attempts to clear the hall resulted in over 100 arrests and 3 injured people. The arrested were charged with burglary, trespassing, criminal mischief, or disorderly conduct. As a result, Columbia has canceled its graduation ceremony.

In response to this riot, Brown University has decided to vote on the divestment of companies affiliated with Israel. In return, the protesters have cleared the campus. Other colleges have also come to similar agreements. However, Brown and other private colleges have a certain privilege unlike public colleges. 

Private colleges are permitted to restrict students’ first amendment rights. Colleges like Brown and Columbia can call off protests and even take disciplinary actions towards students who participate. Whether or not a college is bound to the first amendment determines if non-students can protest on campus. For private colleges, people who do not attend the school can not protest on campus. The only permission public schools have against protesters is to ask them to not interfere with classes and they can take down encampments on campus grounds. 

Despite the incident at Columbia, some colleges refuse to come to an agreement with protesters. According to the University of Michigan, divesting from Israel would generate less money for the school.

Protesters will continue to raise awareness for the innocent people in Gaza being killed. They will remain persistent so they can possibly prevent the future killing of faultless people.


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