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Protest supporting Columbia’s ‘Gaza Solidarity Encampment’ circles Cannon Green on Declaration Day

A group of protestors in stand in front of an ivy-covered building, behind three orange and black banners.
Protestors in front of Cannon Green on Friday.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

Princeton tradition and a political protest clashed on Friday, April 19, as pro-Palestine demonstrators walked near the Class of 2026 Declaration Day celebration, where recently-declared students in black and orange sweaters posed with department banners behind the iconic Nassau Hall. Some paused amid the protest, while others continued taking photographs with protesters in the background.

The demonstration, which ran for over an hour and a half, was a show of support for the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University, where students set up tents beginning Wednesday morning on the campus’ center lawn to demand Columbia divest from companies tied to Israel. On Thursday, Columbia President Minouche Shafik authorized arrests and suspensions of over 100 protesters at the encampment. Solidarity demonstrations, including similar encampments at Yale and the University of Michigan, have unfurled at colleges across the country since. Nearly 50 Yale students were arrested early in the morning of Monday, April 22.


Princeton’s demonstration began in front of Nassau Hall at 2:30 p.m. the day following the arrests at Columbia. About 100 students and community members gathered, reiterating calls for the University to divest its endowment from companies associated with the Israeli military.

Organizers also passed around flyers with QR codes for a petition addressed to the Columbia president, deans, and trustees, and for the Barnard-Columbia Abolition Collective Venmo account.

Nipuna Ginige ’26, a member of Princeton Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), recounted the events at Columbia in a speech to the crowd. He was met with cries of “shame!” from protesters about what was happening there.

Vice President of Students for Prison Education, Abolition & Reform (SPEAR) Kristin Nagy ’27 told the crowd about her own friends at Columbia and Barnard who had been arrested, suspended, or evicted from their campus housing this week. “These people could be us,” she said.

“Don’t forget that there are hundreds of thousands of our fellow students who have also been evicted and suspended because their universities have been destroyed,” she added, referring to the Israeli attacks against all 12 universities in Gaza since the war began.

Rowan Johnson ’27, co-chair of Princeton Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) spoke about the over 30,000 deaths in Gaza, asking, “Guess who’s funding it all? This country, including this University,” pointing behind him to Nassau Hall.


Other speakers included representatives of Central Jersey Democratic Socialists of America, Unidad Latina en Acción, and Princeton Israeli Apartheid Divest, a group of students advocating for the University to divest from companies tied to Israel’s “ongoing military campaign, occupation, and apartheid policies.”

There did not appear to be an organized counter-protest effort, although one student standing outside the gates enclosing the demonstration unfurled an Israeli flag shortly after the protest began; another student displaying Israeli and U.S. flags later joined. Later, when the demonstrators marched around Cannon Green, a sophomore borrowed the Israeli flag to pose for a photo with the protest in the background.

The events of the protest also included an encounter with University administration. About 20 minutes in, SJP Secretary Patrick Jaojoco GS said, “Everybody say hello to the chair of ODUS over there,” referring to Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Jarrett Fisher. “They’ve notified us that we cannot use this mic.”

The use of amplified sound at protests must be approved by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS). During the protest, organizers were handed cards informing them that they were in violation of University policy.

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“If you do not cease the disruption immediately, you may be removed from the site and may face University-imposed sanctions (including being barred from campus) and/or arrest,” the cards read.

Compared to how the Israel-Gaza war has roiled other schools, the response on Princeton’s campus has been far less heated. Friday’s protest was the first major demonstration in support of Palestine on campus since Feb. 12, and protest tactics have not escalated beyond a die-in in front of Firestone Library in February. Elsewhere, students have staged hunger strikes and sit-ins to demand action from their institutions.

Pro-Palestinian students and student groups at Princeton have also not faced arrest or major disciplinary action from the University. On Friday, the University of Pennsylvania became the latest school to revoke recognition of a pro-Palestinian student group, citing alleged noncompliance with university policy.

The demonstration aimed to reach beyond just those who passed by Nassau Hall that afternoon. 

Jaojoco told demonstrators that the University was planning to take a drone photo of Cannon Green, where Declaration Day festivities were being held. After protesters had been in front of Nassau Hall for about an hour, they began marching around the side of the building towards the celebration.

Class of 2026 Social Chair Aarushi Adlakha confirmed to the ‘Prince’ that the drone photo ultimately was not taken.

“​​We’re not only sending a solidarity message to Columbia today, we are sending a message to Princeton,” Jaojoco said at one point. “We need to make sure that every single person on this campus knows that we are here.”

Annie Rupertus is a head News editor for the ‘Prince’ from Philadelphia who often covers activism and campus governance.

Miriam Waldvogel is an associate News editor and the investigations editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Stockton, Calif. and often covers campus activism and University accountability.

Please send any corrections to corrections[at]

Editor’s note: This piece was updated to include additional information about events in the morning of Monday, April 22 on other campuses.