School and State Leaders try to balance free speech rights, student safety

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)— Pro-Palestinian protests have been taking place at colleges across New York State and the country.

On Thursday President Joe Biden addressed the nationwide issue, saying while there is a right to free speech, violent protest are not protected.

“Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campus, forcing the cancelation of classes and graduation none of this is a peaceful protest,” said Biden.

At SUNY Purchase, after several hours of peaceful protests, 70 people were later arrested including students and faculty members for trespass violations. According to the college, they refused to disperse. It is believed non-students snuck on campus.

A SUNY Purchase spokesperson stated, “Students will also be going through the student code of conduct process. As the investigation continues, a few individuals may face additional charges.”

At Cornell, an encampment was set up on the Arts Quad causing disruptions. According to the university’s president, students refused to move to another location.

On Monday she stated in part, “Therefore, more temporary suspensions, along with HR referrals for employees engaged with the encampment, are forthcoming.”

Earlier this week, Governor Hochul made remarks about protests happening on college campuses, including the one at Columbia.

“The State of New York is also offering assistance to the universities and the city of New York, in particularly the universities throughout the state as they prepare for their commencements,” Hochul said at a press conference on Wednesday. “As I said, everyone is entitled to participate in a live commencement ceremony.”

SUNY releasing a statement saying in part, “Student safety on our campuses is paramount, and SUNY is committed to ensuring that our campuses are safe, inclusive, and enable students to express themselves responsibly.”

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