Columbia University Students Demand Tuition Refunds Following Announcement That Remaining Classes Will be Remote Due to Protests on Campus

By: Georgia | Published: Apr 24, 2024

Amid escalating protests, Columbia University has declared a shift to hybrid classes. As tensions rise, students and critics question the university’s decision, sparking a fiery debate on educational integrity and safety. 

Angela Olinto, provost of Columbia, insists, “It’s vital that teaching and learning continue during this time,” despite the protests entering their seventh day.

Parents Demand Tuition Refunds Over Protest Impact

Frustration grows among Columbia parents as the administration struggles to manage pro-Palestine student protests. 

Busy sidewalk near Columbia University with pedestrians, including some carrying flags, and police officers standing beside metal barricades

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Calls for tuition refunds echo across the community as parents feel their children’s costly education is compromised. 


Disappointment on the Ground: Students' Perspective

Junior Michael D’Agostino voiced his dissatisfaction with the hybrid learning model, stating, “the amount we pay to be at this school to learn from these amazing faculties and professors.” 

A twilight view of a protest at Columbia University showing people amongst sleeping bags and personal items scattered across the lawn with buildings in the background

Source: RichardHardigan/X

His struggle emphasizes the broader disappointment among students who miss the invaluable in-person educational experience.

Leadership Criticized for Weak Response

The administration’s response, labeled as “weak” by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, has drawn significant criticism. 

A man in a business suit speaking into a microphone on stage with a colorful blurred background at a public speaking event

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fleischer condemned the decision, suggesting, “’protesters’ have in essence shut down Columbia University,” and calls for stronger leadership to keep the school fully operational.

Political Figures Weigh In on Columbia's Crisis

High-profile political commentators like Mike Huckabee have joined the fray, criticizing Columbia’s handling of the protests. 

A man in a suit and tie holding a microphone while speaking to an audience, with an American flag in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Huckabee advises parents to “demand a refund and then sue for breach of contract,” showcasing the depth of discontent with the university’s decisions amidst the ongoing turmoil.

Barnard College Maintains In-Person Classes

The Columbia Daily Spectator reports that while Columbia falters, affiliated Barnard College holds the line with in-person classes. 

The gated entrance to Barnard College with the name 'BARNARD' prominently displayed above the gate, a security vehicle parked in front, and a pedestrian passing by

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This contrast highlights differing approaches within the same university community.


University President Calls for Community Healing

University President Minouche Shafik expressed deep sadness over the campus climate. 

A woman with shoulder-length dark hair, wearing a pink blazer and a pearl necklace, smiling at the camera in an office setting

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Our bonds as a community have been severely tested,” Shafik acknowledges, pledging to work towards reaffirming these bonds in the aftermath of the protests.


Security Tightens Amidst Growing Tensions

In response to the ongoing unrest, Columbia is ramping up its campus security. 

A protestor wearing a black mask and a keffiyeh playing a guitar surrounded by other demonstrators in casual attire, some wearing keffiyehs, in an outdoor setting

Source: Dean_Moses/X

A security guard from Apex Security Group Inc. said, “It’s my first day. We need it,” as the university prepares for extended overnight shifts to ensure safety.


Columbia at the Epicenter of National Protests

Columbia University has become a focal point for pro-Palestinian efforts nationwide following the emergence of a tent encampment on campus. 

Tents set up on a university lawn with banners reading 'LIBERATED ZONE' and 'GAZA SOLIDARITY ENCAMPMENT,' with protesters and a university building in the background

Source: Dean_Moses/X

The university’s role in this wider movement illustrates its status as a battleground for broader political and social issues.


NYPD Called to Campus Amid Safety Concerns

In a decisive move, President Shafik requested NYPD intervention to dismantle the protest, leading to over 100 arrests. 

Uniformed police officers standing guard on a university campus with chains and metal barricades in the foreground, and the university's steps and columns in the background

Source: A2D2_/X

This action sparks further controversy among students and faculty, polarizing opinions on campus safety and free speech rights.


Governor Hochul Addresses Campus Safety Crisis

New York Governor Kathy Hochul visited Columbia to discuss strategies with university officials and the NYPD. 

A group of people seated around a table in a meeting room discussing, with a woman in a suit addressing the group, and a security officer in uniform in attendance

Source: GovKathyHochul/X

“Every student deserves to be safe,” Hochul said, emphasizing the government’s role in addressing educational and public safety crises.


Influential Donor Withdraws Support

Amidst the unrest, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced his decision to withhold donations, signaling a major financial repercussion for Columbia. 

An older man with white hair clapping his hands, wearing a suit with a pink tie, standing in a stadium with lights and an American flag in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This move reflects growing concerns among stakeholders about the university’s direction and stability in these turbulent times.