The president of Columbia University said he will work every day to rebuild after 2 difficult weeks

The president of Columbia University said he will work every day to rebuild after 2 difficult weeks

After two weeks of uproar and calls for his resignation, Columbia University’s president said he is “committed” and will “rebuild the community on our campus.”

The group of protesters occupying Hamilton Hall on the campus of Columbia University, “crossed a new line,” President Minouche Shafik said in a video message released on X Friday.

Shafik called the past two weeks on campus “among the most difficult in Columbia history.”

“Trouble and tension, division and disruption have affected the entire society,” Shafik said in the message, which lasted just over three minutes.

Columbia University students “paid a very high price,” as a result of the protests, he said.

“You’re missing your last days in classrooms and residence halls. For you seniors, you’re finishing college the way you started, online,” Shafik said.
The university tried several times to reach a resolution through dialogue, Shafik said.

“Academic leaders talk to students for eight days and nights,” he said. “(The university) made a sincere and good offer, but it was not accepted.”

While many of the protesters on campus were mostly peaceful and “very caring,” Shafik said the group occupying Hamilton Hall “crossed a new line.”

Shafik called the occupation a “violent act” that affects the safety of students.

“Each of us has a role to play in bringing back the value of truth and civil discourse that has been badly damaged by polarization. At Columbia, parallel realities and parallel conversations have prevented us from other perspectives,” said Shafik.

Shafik said he was born in the Middle East “in a Muslim family with many Jewish and Christian friends.” Through his two decades of international work, Shafik said he realized “people can disagree and still make progress.”

“The issues that challenge us, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, anti-Semitism and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim have existed for a long time,” said Shafik. “And Columbia, despite being an incredible institution, couldn’t solve it, alone.”

Shafik urged students to set an example for a better world, where people who disagree “do so civilly.”

“We have a lot to do, but I am committed to working on it every day and with each of you to rebuild the community on our campus.”

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