Columbia University Shuts Campus Down, Goes Online Amid Protests

InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

( – Columbia University has made the decision to transition all academic activities, including classes and final examinations, to an online format for the remainder of the academic year. This announcement, made by Provost Angela Olinto on Thursday, comes in response to the evolving conditions on the Morningside Heights campus.

Provost Olinto explained, “To effectively address the dynamic concerns presented in our campus environment, we have determined that transitioning to a fully remote model is necessary for the duration of the semester, with specific exceptions.” She emphasized that all academic interactions, whether they be classes, review sessions, or office hours, will now be conducted remotely. Additionally, all assessments traditionally held at the end of the semester, including final exams, will also take place online.

This shift to remote learning is a continuation of the university’s earlier move to a hybrid model, prompted by unrest on campus. The change was further necessitated after a significant intervention by the New York Police Department, which resulted in the arrest of 300 individuals during the dispersal of protestors occupying Hamilton Hall.

In her announcement, Provost Olinto also provided guidance to faculty on how to adapt their final examination procedures in light of the transition to remote learning. She encouraged faculty to explore various alternatives that could mitigate the stress on students during this disruptive time. These alternatives include offering take-home finals, modifying the weighting of final exams within overall course grades, implementing a ‘no-harm’ final policy where the exam cannot negatively impact a student’s grade, making the final examination optional, or cancelling it altogether.

Furthermore, the provost urged faculty to consider the needs of students who have already departed from campus amid the ongoing disruptions. Given that access to campus facilities is now restricted solely to residents of the university’s housing on the Morningside Heights campus, it is crucial that instructors provide flexibility and support to those who are no longer physically present.

This decision reflects Columbia University’s commitment to maintaining the safety and academic integrity of its community while navigating the challenges posed by the current campus climate. The university continues to monitor the situation closely and is prepared to make further adjustments as necessary to ensure the well-being of all students, faculty, and staff.

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