Since Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, and the start of a counteroffensive from Israel, colleges and universities across the United States have been struggling to handle the debate and protests over the war.
Here are some of the episodes that have added to the tensions on campuses, including dueling protests, calls for the ouster of school leaders and threats from angry donors and alumni to pull funding:
The day after the Hamas attack, a coalition of more than 30 student groups at Harvard publishes an open letter, saying it holds “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” The letter receives intense backlash.
Amid rising pressure from alumni and donors, Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, issues a statement expressing heartbreak over the death and destruction while calling for “an environment of dialogue and empathy.”
At least five of the 34 student groups that originally signed the letter at Harvard have withdrawn their endorsements of it. Dr. Gay issues a more forceful statement, condemning the attacks by Hamas as “abhorrent.”
A law firm rescinds its job offer to a New York University law student, who had written a message to the university’s Student Bar Association saying that Israel bore responsibility for the attack.
At the University of Pennsylvania, Marc Rowan, the chief executive of the private equity giant Apollo Global Management and the chair of the university’s Wharton School board, calls for the university’s leadership to resign. Mr. Rowan and other large benefactors are furious with what they say was a slow response to condemning the Oct. 7 attacks.
Hundreds of Columbia University students take part in competing pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations, despite the school closing the campus to the public for a day.
At Harvard, a doxxing campaign starts targeting students affiliated with the groups that signed the open letter. A truck with a digital billboard — paid for by a conservative group — circles Harvard Square, flashing students’ photos and names under the headline “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.”
Columbia University postpones a major fund-raising drive, reflecting that on-campus turmoil caused by the war is testing the limits of free speech on campus.
The chancellor of the State University System of Florida writes in a letter to school presidents that chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine must be “deactivated,” meaning they would be cut off from university space and funding. The decision was not based on anything the local chapters had said or done but rather on what the letter described as the national organization’s “support of terrorism” — a charge members of the group have denied.
At George Washington University, members of Students for Justice in Palestine project phrases like “Glory to Our Martyrs” and “Your Tuition Is Funding Genocide in Gaza” onto a library.
The tensions inflamed by the war spill into the Cooper Union in New York with pro-Palestinian protests. At one point, demonstrators pound on one side of closed library doors, while other students, including Jewish students, are inside.
The campus police at Cornell guard the university’s Center for Jewish Living after online posts threatened violence against Jewish students.
The authorities open a hate crime investigation after the report of a hit-and-run at Stanford University that left an Arab Muslim student injured. The student tells officials that the driver had shouted an expletive and referred to “you and your people.”
The police arrest 20 students at Brown University who held a sit-in on campus to pressure the school’s leadership to call for an immediate cease-fire and to divest the school’s endowment from companies with ties to weapons manufacturers.
Dr. Gay, Harvard’s president, condemns the pro-Palestinian phrase “from the river to the sea,” which has been called divisive and antisemitic by many others, including the White House. At the University of Pennsylvania, the president, Elizabeth Magill, speaks forcefully against antisemitic rhetoric and announces that the university is investigating “vile, antisemitic messages” that had been projected onto several campus buildings.
Columbia suspends two pro-Palestinian student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, through the end of the fall term. The school accuses both of repeatedly violating campus policies.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Palestine Legal file a federal lawsuit claiming that Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican running for president, and education officials in the state had violated the First Amendment when they ordered the removal of support for Students for Justice in Palestine.
The federal government opens discrimination investigations into half a dozen universities, including Columbia, Cooper Union and Cornell, following complaints about antisemitic and anti-Muslim harassment.
Students are arrested at a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Michigan.
Three Palestinian students who attend universities in the United States are shot in Burlington, Vt., inciting outrage across the country.
The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Education Department announces an investigation into allegations of antisemitism at Harvard, which says it will cooperate with the inquiry.
The presidents of three universities, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. testify at a congressional hearing on antisemitism, parrying accusations that their institutions had tolerated bias against Jews. They receive wide criticism for lawyerly responses to questions like whether they would they discipline students who called for the genocide of Jews.
Also, the Department of Education’s Office for civil rights adds several more schools to its investigation for possible discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, amid a rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and other forms of discrimination and harassment.
Ms. Magill, the University of Pennsylvania president, apologizes for her testimony at the congressional hearing.
Harvard’s president, Dr. Gay, apologizes for her testimony. “I am sorry,” Dr. Gay tells the campus newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. “Words matter.”
Ms. Magill resigns as president. Scott L. Bok, the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, says in an email to the Penn community that Ms. Magill has “voluntarily tendered her resignation.”
Less than an hour later, Mr. Bok announces his resignation, deepening the turmoil at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.
Harvard’s governing board reaffirms its support of Dr. Gay as president. “As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University,” said a statement signed by all of the board members other than Dr. Gay.