By Gus Saltonstall
Columbia University upped its security on Thursday, only allowing those with school IDs into the Morningside Heights campus. The move came after two groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Students Supporting Israel, prepared to hold simultaneous rallies on the campus this afternoon. It also followed an alleged assault Wednesday on an Israeli student who had been posting photos on campus of Israelis reportedly taken hostage when Hamas attacked Israel this week, according to news reports.
The assault took place at about 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, when a 19-year-old woman allegedly attacked a 24-year-old Israeli student with a stick inside the 116th Street campus, according to media reports and police.
The victim reportedly confronted the woman after she was seen ripping down the fliers with names and photos of kidnapped Israelis, reported the Columbia Spectator. The attacker had helped put up those same posters earlier in the day and had told the group she was Jewish, the Spectator reported, but she was later seen ripping down the flyers while wearing a bandana over her face.
A confrontation ensued that left one of the students with a bruised hand and broken finger, according to reports.
An NYPD spokesperson confirmed to the West Side Rag that a 19-year-old woman had hit a 24-year-old man in the hand with a stick. She was taken into custody and charged with assault, police added.
Late Wednesday, hours after the attack, Columbia University Executive Vice President David M. Greenberg sent out an email to the school community — shared with the West Side Rag — stating that the Morningside Heights campus would only be open Thursday to people with valid school IDs.
“This condition is in place to help maintain safety and a sense of community through planned demonstration activities,” the email said.
The “demonstration activities” refer to a “Call to Action for Palestine” event, organized by Students for Justice in Palestine, and a simultaneous protest organized by the Students Supporting Israel group. Both of the events are planned to start within the campus at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“We are anticipating simultaneous protests by two groups this afternoon – Students for Justice in Palestine and Students Supporting Israel,” reads a second email sent Thursday afternoon to the Columbia University community by the school’s interim provost. “Substantial efforts were made to enlist the participation of outside supporters in a manner that risks creating an unsafe environment for our community. This is why we have limited our access today to CUID holders only.”
Update: Thursday, 6:45 p.m.: Hundreds of Columbia University students and affiliates took part in dueling protests Thursday afternoon within the school’s Morningside Heights campus.
Students for Justice in Palestine gathered on one side of the campus, while Students Supporting Israel demonstrated on the opposite side.
Columbia University right now. Opposing (and peaceful) protests on either side of the campus lawn. pic.twitter.com/RL994WaPfW
— Bill Grueskin (@BGrueskin) October 12, 2023
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