Apr 25, 2024 - News

Campus protests escalate at Harvard, MIT, Northeastern and Tufts

Police confront protesters

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/Getty Images

Throngs of undergrads continued to erect encampments to protest the Gaza war after over 100 people were arrested at Emerson College early Thursday morning.

Why it matters: University administrators are juggling students' free speech rights with concerns from Jewish students and alumni that some demonstrations against Israel's war policies have crossed the line into antisemitism.

State of play: Four Boston police officers reported being hurt in the Emerson clash while clearing protestors camped out by Boston Common.

  • The encampment had been up since Sunday night.
  • Classes were canceled Thursday at Emerson.

Across the river in Harvard Yard, demonstrators set up a camp Wednesday to protest the suspension of a pro-Palestinian student group.

  • They want Harvard to end any investments in Israel.
  • Police have not stepped in to evacuate the camp, but Harvard Yard is currently off limits to the public.

Another encampment popped up at Northeastern University yesterday morning, with students huddling on tarps and in tents in what they're calling a "liberated zone" on Centennial Common.

Brandeis University, meanwhile, is inviting students seeking refuge from the anti-Israel climate on college campuses to transfer to the traditionally Jewish school by extending its transfer deadline to the end of May.

The big picture: U.S. colleges have become flashpoints for pro-Palestinian protests since the Israel-Hamas war began last October.

  • Colleges across the country broke up demonstrations this week, sparking First Amendment concerns.
  • "We are concerned that campuses and law enforcement nationwide are increasingly cracking down on political expression, rushing in police to arrest protestors and authorizing aggressive treatment," ACLU of Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose said in a statement.

What we're watching: Graduation day at area schools is approaching, and administrators will have to make a call about in-person or virtual ceremonies if the protests continue.

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