Ilhan Omar’s daughter says she’s been ‘basically evicted’ after suspension

The daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) says she was “basically evicted” after she was suspended from Columbia University’s Barnard College on Friday for participating in pro-Palestinian protests on campus.

Hundreds of students have occupied Columbia’s campus for days, protesting the Biden administration’s response to the Israel-Hamas war, backing a cease-fire in the conflict, and urging Congress to stop sending military aid to Israel.

Isra Hirsi, 21, was among the more than 100 students arrested on the orders of university leadership and charged with trespassing for the protests, and the demonstrations have only grown since. She was also one of three students suspended from Barnard, cutting off her access to food and housing.

Hirsi recounted the moment she received notice of her suspension in a Teen Vogue interview Sunday.

“At that moment, we made an announcement to the camp — because there were an overwhelming amount of Barnard students at camp — and let them know that we had been basically evicted and not allowed into our space, but also officially suspended,” she said.

Shortly after the suspensions came arrests; the 113 students arrested were ferried to a local police station by bus.

Hirsi said she was held in zip ties for seven hours before being charged with trespassing and released. Despite the legal trouble, she said she was chiefly concerned about where she would spend the night.

“When I got to 1 Police Plaza, my roommates had brought me a bag of clothes because they knew that I was likely evicted,” she said. “We were reading our email and it said we had 15 minutes to go get our shit if we wanted it, and we’d have to go with a public safety escort.”

“I was like, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ But I was a little bit frantic, like, ‘Where am I going to sleep? Where am I gonna go?’” she continued. “And also all of my shit is thrown in a random lot. It’s pretty horrible.”

Hirsi is effectively barred from entering campus during her suspension, a punishment only levied against Barnard students, she claimed.

“I don’t know when I can go home, and I don’t know if I ever will be able to,” she said. “I haven’t formally been evicted. I haven’t been sent a ‘move out’ email, but they’ve just said that I can’t get in, whatever that means.”

“I have like four shirts, two pairs of pants. Only Barnard students are evicted, and I think it’s pretty crazy,” she continued.

Days after the suspension, food was also a concern.

“I cannot go to the dining hall. I sent them an email like, ‘Hey, I rely on campus for my meals, I rely on my dining plan,’ and they were like, ‘Oh, you can come pick up a prepackaged bag of food,’ a full 48 hours after I was suspended,” she said. “There was no food support, no nothing.”

“The Columbia students still have access to a dining hall and to their homes,” she continued, “they can’t go anywhere else, but they can go home and to one dining hall.”

Hirsi said Barnard has decided to take a “very egregious stand” against the protesting students, differing from the overall university response.

Barnard defended its decision to suspend Hirsi and other students in a Monday statement to The Hill.

“It is our duty to ensure our community remains a safe place, free from harassment and discrimination for all, while also ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to express their views,” the school said. “We have established clear policies to safeguard both — and we are committed to enforcing them consistently and respectfully.”

“Students on interim suspension no longer have access to most Barnard buildings, but they remain eligible for College services, including healthcare, mental health counseling, and academic support,” the statement continued, addressing Hirsi’s concerns. “The Dean of the College also has made food available to students on interim suspension and is otherwise assisting students find alternative housing arrangements when needed.”

Similar campus protests have popped up at New York University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Miami University of Ohio, and numerous other schools nationwide, inspired by the Columbia students. The actions come despite opposition from political leaders on both sides of the aisle.

The Biden administration denounced the protests as “blatantly antisemitic” Sunday and claimed they are encouraging “calls for violence.”

A significant portion of the protesting students are Jewish, and protest groups have fought back against characterizations of their demonstrations as antisemitic.

“We are frustrated by media distractions focusing on inflammatory individuals who do not represent us,” protest leaders wrote in a statement Sunday. “Our members have been misidentified by a politically motivated mob.”

—Updated at 4:22 p.m.

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