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Parents, students livid as colleges move classes online amid anti-Israel violence: 'Very unsettling'

PoliticsParents, students livid as colleges move classes online amid anti-Israel violence: 'Very unsettling'

A handful of colleges and universities have shuttered in recent weeks and days amid the spread of anti-Israel unrest on campuses around the country, leaving those who paid thousands of dollars in tuition feeling frustrated that they were barred from accessing some school buildings and resources.

The college closures are a “necessary evil,” according to Amy Gallatin, whose daughter attends Columbia University’s partner school, Barnard College in New York City. “This is not the experience that my freshman daughter should be having, that any of the students of any year should be having,” Gallatin told Fox News Digital in an interview.

Barnard was one of multiple schools that ceased classroom instruction and shifted to remote learning as rowdy anti-Israel demonstrations metastasized on college campuses throughout the United States, including Columbia University, UCLA, City College of New York, California State Polytechnic University and Tulane University.

UCLA canceled its classes for the rest of the day Wednesday “due to the distress caused by the violence” that took place on its campus late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. City College of New York, which is part of the City University of New York system, also moved to remote learning on Wednesday amid continued disruptions on its campus.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MOVES TO HYBRID LEARNING ON MAIN CAMPUS AMID ANTISEMITIC PROTESTS

A student protester parades a Palestinian flag outside the entrance to Hamilton Hall on the campus of Columbia University

A student demonstrator parades a Palestinian flag outside the entrance to Hamilton Hall on the campus of Columbia University in New York City on April 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer/Pool)

Tulane announced on Tuesday that it had closed portions of its campus and shifted some classes to remote learning. Amid campus unrest, other schools like California State Polytechnic University and Columbia announced last month that some classes would move to hybrid or remote learning until the end of the 2024 spring semester.

Recognizing Barnard’s decision to institute remote learning as an effort to keep the students on campus safe, Gallatin said the transition for her daughter has been a difficult one. She had to take a final exam in her dorm while hearing chants calling for violence outside her window on Tuesday.

“My daughter is also frustrated [and] understandably so,” she said. “She had a final exam yesterday at 6 o’clock that she was taking from her dorm only to have the protesters on the street banging and clanging and chanting.”

Hearing the chants that seemed to call for the death of Jews while taking the exam was “a very unsettling experience” for her daughter, Gallatin said, and “walking through all of those people is a scary thing.”

Gallatin commended the media outlets that have shown a “commitment towards making sure there is an understanding that antisemitism and anti-American sentiment are what is at stake right now.”

She also praised law enforcement officers who cleared Columbia University of occupiers Tuesday night, but she highlighted how the encampments and demonstrations have affected students’ ability to walk around campus to get to buildings like libraries, dining halls and gyms.

“It’s such an inconvenience,” she said. “That alone adds so much stress.”

Protesters, police

Police are shown near an anti-Israel encampment on the UCLA campus on May 1, 2024. (Reuters/David Swanson)

Several parents of students who attend schools that have moved to remote learning are calling for tuition refunds or reimbursements.

Though Gallatin remains on the fence about joining calls for tuition refunds, she said there is “merit to demanding an adjustment of sorts, at least.”

PARENTS WARN OF ‘NIGHTMARE’ CLIMATE ON COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CAMPUS: JEWISH STUDENTS ‘ARE BEING THREATENED’

Other parents, however, say the colleges should issue tuition refunds before the next school semester starts after allowing the anti-Israel unrest to continue for so long.

“The colleges should honestly be ashamed for their handling of all of this. They are largely responsible for allowing the protests to turn out the way they did,” one Columbia parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fox News Digital. “There should certainly be reimbursements before school starts back in person. Think about all the people who were affected: students, faculty, parents, police and others.”

“I’m not a big fan of remote learning, and I don’t think it’s good for any of the students,” added the mother, whose son is a junior at the school. “While it is temporary, as I understand, it should have never been an option in the first place. Who knows if it will continue into next semester, but it all could be avoided if schools would take the right action and follow rules they have to deal with this type of stuff.”

While tuition and fee prices vary for different colleges and universities, they are upward of $65,000 each year at schools like Columbia, Tulane and UCLA. At places like City College of New York and California State Polytechnic University, the annual price of tuition costs roughly $6,900 and $8,300, respectively.

Anti-Israel protests on college campuses

Anti-Israel protests have quickly spread in recent weeks as most schools refuse to take action, even when there are threats made against members of the Jewish community. (Getty Images)

A parent of a recent University of Wisconsin graduate also expressed her thoughts on the matter in comments to Fox.

“It’s extremely concerning to see what’s taking place on campus. Yes, students and all of us have the right of free speech, but no one has the right to keep others from attending class or from using resources on campus,” she said. “And absolutely no one should be threatening or degrading anyone of any religion, background or ethnicity. This goes against who we are as Americans, and students should know better.”

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“As parents and as a family, we always had a very positive experience with the college. We always felt the leadership’s communication was clear and helpful. Our son had a very positive experience there and we love the school. That’s why it makes me very sad to see what’s going on there right now. We trust and hope the college’s leadership gets things under control and allows all students of all backgrounds to have access to the educational resources they’ve chosen and are paying for, and that no students ever feel at risk or threatened as they attempt to complete their studies and their time there.”


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