Here’s what’s happening on U.S. college campuses

Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have intensified across U.S. college campuses in the past few weeks. Here's what you need to know.
More than 1,000 students have been arrested for protests at college. campuses across the U.S.

Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have intensified across U.S. college campuses in the past few weeks.

More than 1,000 arrests have been made across numerous colleges in the U.S.

Universities have said they are seeing increased antisemitism on campuses.

The protests have started to spread to universities in other countries, including at the University of Sydney.


On 7 October, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. According to data cited by the UN, roughly 1,200 people were killed. Hamas, which Australia lists as a terrorist organisation, captured about 240 hostages. 133 remain captive today.

Israel responded by declaring war and bombarding Gaza. According to data cited by the UN, at least 34,000 Palestinians have now been killed since 7 October. Israel’s war in Gaza has caused a humanitarian crisis.

In the seven months since the war began, there have been mass protests all over the world.

College protests

The recent wave of student protests in the U.S. began at Columbia University in New York City in mid-April. On 18 April, more than 100 students were arrested after they refused to vacate an encampment (a group of tents) on campus.

The protests at Columbia have only intensified since then. In the past day, students have forcefully occupied one of the halls on campus.
On Tuesday morning (local time), the university released a statement saying that students occupying the building “face expulsion”.

Riot police have since entered the building and removed dozens of protesters. A spokesperson for U.S. President Joe Biden said “forcibly taking over a building on campus is absolutely the wrong approach”.

Protests elsewhere

Students are now protesting at around 50 other university campuses in the U.S. and Canada, including Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins.

CNN reports more than 1,000 students have been arrested across at least 21 states.

Some universities have cancelled graduation ceremonies, including the University of South Carolina, in the wake of these protests.

Protest aims

Protesters are calling for an immediate ceasefire, and for their universities to ‘divest’ from (stop investing funds in) companies linked to Israel.

On Monday, Columbia University announced it “will not divest from Israel” but said it will expedite a review into the matter.

Brown University has reached a rare agreement with protesters. It has announced that its leaders have agreed to discuss, and later vote on, divesting funds from companies connected to Israel. The students have ended their protest on campus as part of the agreement.


There have been many reports of antisemitism occurring during the protests.

Columbia University has strongly condemned “chants, signs, taunts, and social media posts from our own students that mock and threaten to ’kill’ Jewish people”. It said “many [Jewish students] have left campus, and that is a tragedy”.

Videos show Jewish students being physically prevented from entering their colleges, and some incidents of assault.

Last week, Biden condemned the antisemitism, saying it was “reprehensible and dangerous” and that it had “no place on college campuses or anywhere in our country.”


Encampments have now been established at some Australian universities, with organisers calling for similar demands.

For example, the organisers of the encampment at the University of Sydney (USYD) have asked it to stop its partnership “with a slew of Israeli institutions”.

Macquarie University said it is “working to wholly understand” what happened when one of its academics, Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah, ran an event at the USYD protests for young children, where they were filmed chanting phrases including “intifada” and “Israel is a terrorist state”.

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