Columbia University’s president, Nemat Shafik, released a video message late on Friday, following several weeks of tension over Gaza war protests on campus that have spawned a wave of antiwar activism at universities across the country.

On Tuesday, those tensions erupted after Dr. Shafik asked the New York Police Department to clear a building occupied by pro-Palestinian protesters and encampments on campus. Police officers in riot gear arrested more than 100 demonstrators at Columbia University.

It was the second time in two weeks that Columbia officials had asked the police to enter the Manhattan campus to remove demonstrators. On April 18, another 100 or so Columbia students were arrested. The decision to bring law enforcement on campus, and also to request that they remain on campus until May 17, has drawn criticism from many members of the Columbia community, including faculty, alumni and students.

Over the last six months, the university has released numerous letters to its students, faculty and alumni regarding the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack, the war in Gaza and the related protests and unrest on campus. But the video released on Friday was the first one by Dr. Shafik released on the school’s Vimeo page in months.

In the video message, Dr. Shafik discussed the need for the community to work together to return civility to the campus after weeks of unrest.

“These past two weeks have been among the most difficult in Columbia’s history,” Dr. Shafik said. “The turmoil and tension, division and disruption have impacted the entire community.”


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