Billionaire Cuts Funding to Columbia University Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests

Billionaire donor withdraws funding from Columbia over pro-Palestinian protests, highlighting tensions on US campuses over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Billionaire Cuts Funding to Columbia University Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests

Billionaire Cuts Funding to Columbia University Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests

Billionaire Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and a former Columbia University student, has withdrawn his financial support for the university in response to the ongoing pro-Palestinian protests on campus. The protests, which have led to confrontations with Jewish students and the creation of a "Gaza Solidarity Encampment," have drawn widespread condemnation from politicians and public figures.

Kraft stated, "The university I once loved is no longer an institution I recognize, and I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff." He emphasized that the treatment of Jewish students on campus was a major factor in his decision to pull funding.

The protests at Columbia are part of a larger trend of pro-Palestinian demonstrations erupting on college campuses across the United States. Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, have called for the resignation of Columbia's president, Minouche Shafik, accusing her of failing to control the escalating situation. Johnson visited the campus on April 24th and condemned the protesters for using antisemitic language, stating, "The madness has to stop."

Why this matters: The events at Columbia University highlight the growing tension and polarization surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on American college campuses. The withdrawal of financial support from prominent donors like Robert Kraft could have significant implications for the university's future and may set a precedent for other institutions facing similar challenges.

In response to the protests, Columbia University has shifted to a hybrid in-person and online learning model due to safety concerns. The university has given protesters a deadline to dismantle their encampments, and negotiations are ongoing to de-escalate the situation. However, the protesters have accused the university of threatening to unleash the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the National Guard on them.

Other billionaire donors, such as Len Blavatnik and Leon Cooperman, have also expressed their concerns over the situation at Columbia. Cooperman, a Columbia graduate, announced a suspension of his giving, criticizing the university's handling of the protests. He stated, "I would need to see changes from campus leadership in order to restart my donations to the university."

As the protests continue, the NYPD has deployed counterterrorism officers to the campus gates, and protesters are bracing for potential conflict. The university has granted a 48-hour extension for protesters to disperse their encampment after a "constructive dialogue" where protesters pledged to remove some tents and restrict the protest to Columbia students. The future of the demonstrations and their impact on the university remain uncertain.

Key Takeaways

  • Billionaire Robert Kraft withdraws funding from Columbia over pro-Palestinian protests.
  • Protests draw condemnation from politicians, with calls for university president's resignation.
  • Columbia shifts to hybrid learning, protesters face deadline to dismantle encampment.
  • Other billionaire donors, like Len Blavatnik and Leon Cooperman, also express concerns.
  • NYPD deploys counterterrorism officers as protests continue, future remains uncertain.