USSC Associate Professor Dr David Smith is featured in an article discussing US university administrators' reactions to pro-Palestinian protests on US campuses.

Dr Smith tells Times Higher Education that some universities had shown how protests could be dispersed peacefully. For instance, the governing body of Brown University had shown a way through the conflict by committing to a vote on divestment from Israel if students disbanded their camp.

“There’s a long historical experience with protest that when you violently suppress it, you don’t make it go away – if anything, you encourage it,” he said.

Dr Smith said some administrators’ determination not “to be seen to be giving in to student demands” seemed to trump their unwillingness to be associated with violent suppression — a stance many may come to regret, particularly at Columbia.

“One of the lessons from this is [that] if you commit to a tough response early on… you can’t be seen to be backing down from it. If you have a more conciliatory approach from the beginning, then you potentially leave yourself room later on to get tough if negotiations don’t go anywhere."

“Columbia is in the situation where quite early on it committed to this very tough response. They then attempted to negotiate…but still on very constricted terms. That didn’t put the protesters in a particularly conciliatory mood.”