BU, Harvard students protest arrests of Columbia University pro-Palestinian demonstrators - The Boston Globe (2024)


“If we see [arrests] and we stop protesting things, they won. They don’t have to do anything, we’re self regulating,” Aaran said. “It’s not an option to let those arrests stop us from protesting.”

As a crowd of more than 50 BU students marched throughout campus beginning at Marsh Plaza, they raised signs reading “Free Palestine,” banged on plastic bins with wooden drumsticks, and shouted chants through megaphones. Demonstrators stopped briefly outside the university’s administrative center, whose doors were blocked by two police officers.

Related: ‘Two different planets’: On university campuses, the Israel-Palestinian divide runs deep

Later in the afternoon at Harvard, a few hundred students gathered outside the Science Center, then marched through Harvard Yard, making stops outside the University Hall, the Widener Library, and Massachusetts Hall, the administrative building that houses the office of Interim President Alan Garber.

BU, Harvard students protest arrests of Columbia University pro-Palestinian demonstrators - The Boston Globe (1)

Their voices resounded throughout the yard as they chanted, “Free Palestine” and “Shut it down,” among other mantras. Several students waved Palestinian flags while others held canvas banners painted with messages reading “Harvard out of occupied Palestine” and “Stop the genocide in Gaza.”

Addressing the students gathered outside the Science Center, Lea Kayali, a Harvard law student, commended the arrested students at Columbia for their commitment to the cause.


“We will take up the mantel that Columbia has given us, including here in Boston and Cambridge at Harvard,” Kayali said through a megaphone. “You cannot arrest the movement. You cannot suspend the movement.”

Related: They were arrested at a pro-Palestinian sit-in. Now, three UMass students aren’t allowed to study abroad.

At BU, protesters attempted to enter the George Sherman Union building, a student hub with a food hall, but after talking with university police officers outside the building, they didn’t enter.

“Pro-Palestinian students are most heavily targeted by the administration,” said Eliana González, a BU senior studying psychology, as the rally marched down Commonwealth Avenue past swarms of students walking between classes.

“The point of these protests is to disrupt and to bring awareness,” González said.

To González, the attention from university officials and campus police on student activists is not the aim of the demonstrations, but shows that their protests are “working” to garner attention.

There were no known arrests from today’s protests at MIT, BU and Harvard.

Related: 41 Brown University students arrested after sit-in over Israel-Hamas war

While arrests and disciplinary actions against pro-Palestinian students on other campuses loom in the background of local activism, some students demonstrating Friday said they’re not intimidated away from continuing to protest.

“We know that they use it as a scare tactic — and it obviously is scary. Being doxxed is not fun — it’s terrifying, it sucks,” said Anjali Katta, a Harvard law student. Still, “I’m very certain that we’re on the right side of history.’


For Angela Li, another Harvard law student who attended the rally with Katta, the privilege of attending Harvard adds an extra layer of security — and motivation.

“Even if I do end up with a disciplinary thing on my record, I will just have to explain that in a future job interview,” Li said. “And if they have an issue with that, that might not be a place where I would thrive anyway.”

“Being at this institution grants me so much privilege and so much of a safety net that it would be a shame to not use that privilege to do a risky thing that maybe someone else wouldn’t be able to do.”

Related: 7 arrested at Brandeis after police break up protest

New York Mayor Eric Adams said the city was asked in writing by Columbia officials to remove the encampment.

“Students have a right to free speech, but do not have a right to violate university policies and disrupt learning on campus,” Adams said.

But some BU students on Friday condemned the response from some university and public officials to regulate when, where, and how students demonstrate.

“Protests are inherently disruptive,” said Kellie Finley-Call, a graduate student at BU’s school of theology. “That’s the point.”

Friday’s protest at BU also came amid a work stoppage from BU graduate student workers, who went on strike March 25. As the pro-Palestinian rally chanted outside the George Sherman Union building, a group of striking grad workers picketed just down the street, calling for a pay increase and other benefits in their new contract.


To Finley-Call, who said she supports the strike but has not withheld labor because she works in the university’s food pantry, the two movements on campus — for a ceasefire in Gaza and for the graduate workers union’s demands — are interrelated.

“Everybody’s liberation is tied up together,” Finley-Call said. “I think that both the push to get a fair contract for grad workers and the demand that BU divest ... are both moral demands that students are making. And BU needs to rise to the occasion.”

Madeline Khaw can be reached at maddie.khaw@globe.com. Follow her @maddiekhaw.

BU, Harvard students protest arrests of Columbia University pro-Palestinian demonstrators - The Boston Globe (2024)


Why did Columbia University students protest in 1968 History Channel? ›

Learn how the Vietnam War and the construction of a gym on campus prompted Columbia University student groups to protest the administration in 1968. See how their numbers swelled into the thousands and inspired student protests all over the country.

Why did Columbia University students protest in 1968 gym? ›

The Columbia protests erupted over the spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as their concern over an allegedly segregated gymnasium to be constructed in the nearby Morningside Park ...

When were black students allowed at Columbia University? ›

In as early as 1901, Black students began entering Teachers College, Columbia, coming from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the South, including Tuskegee, Saint Augustine's, and Howard University.

What happened at Columbia University in NYC in 1968? ›

Students form a human chain between demonstrators and police officers at Columbia University on April 30, 1968. Columbia University's graduating class of 1968 was no stranger to protests. The college years of its student body were marked by the anti-Vietnam War movement and the fight for civil rights.

Why are students protesting at Columbia? ›

Part of the protesters' demands called for more transparency of Columbia's investment portfolio to be able to fully assess the university's ties to Israel and the war in Gaza. Less than 1% of the school's $13.6 billion endowment is publicly disclosed.

What were the reasons for the Columbia University protests? ›

There were multiple reasons. Some were protesting the university's connection to an institute doing weapon research for the Vietnam War; others opposed how the elite school treated Black and brown residents in the community around the school as well as the atmosphere for minority students.

What happened at the Columbia University protest? ›

More than 100 protesters were arrested -- yet few injuries reported -- when NYPD officers in riot gear descended on Columbia University late Tuesday, using tactical strategies to clear the occupied Hamilton Hall and lawn encampment at the request of the college, as anti-war demonstrations at U.S. campuses reached an ...

What were students protesting in 1968? ›

In February, students from Harvard, Radcliffe, and Boston University held a four-day hunger strike to protest the Vietnam war. Ten thousand West Berlin students held a sit-in against American involvement in Vietnam.

Why did people protest at the 1968 Democratic convention? ›

The 1968 Democratic National Convention protests were a series of protests against the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War that took place prior to and during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. The protests lasted approximately seven days, from August 23 to August 29, 1968.

What caused the May 1968 protests? ›

The unrest began with a series of far-left student occupation protests against capitalism, consumerism, American imperialism and traditional institutions.

Why were there protests in 1968? ›

1968 was a year of nearly unprecedented turmoil in the U.S.

It began in January with the Tet Offensive, a series of coordinated attacks on the U.S. and South Vietnamese militaries by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, which represented a major escalation of the war and U.S. public opinion against it.


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