He Refused To Leave Columbia When He Was Suspended. Two Weeks Later, He's Still There—And Leading the Protests Roiling Campus.

Aidan Parisi pledged to 'resist' and called for 'intifada' after Columbia ordered him to vacate his on-campus apartment

Aidan Parisi (@itsaidanbitch Twitter)
April 24, 2024

For more than two weeks, Columbia University graduate student Aidan Parisi has defied the university’s suspension, refusing to vacate his dorm room on the school's Manhattan campus.

The school announced Parisi’s suspension on April 4 following his participation in a pro-Hamas event. And while Columbia leaders have pledged to enforce the suspension, they have yet to follow through. In the meantime, Parisi has contributed to the mayhem that has engulfed the campus over the past several days, serving as a leader of the unauthorized encampment zone that has plagued the school for days.

Parisi has tweeted daily from what he calls Columbia's "Gaza Solidarity Camp," located on the university's south lawn. Student activists set up the camp last week as Columbia president Minouche Shafik testified before Congress on the school's response to campus anti-Semitism.

One day later, Shafik authorized the New York City Police Department to arrest students who had ignored warnings to leave the area and who were protesting in violation of university policy. But Parisi avoided arrest and went on to organize a "second camp" where students have remained ever since.

Parisi has emerged as a ringleader of student activists, leading chants such as, "Columbia, we see you, you imprison children too." He's used his social media account to solicit supplies for his "amazing comrades," including blankets, tarps, and coffee.

He is also a symbol of the university’s dilemma: While Shafik has taken some disciplinary measures, suspending several students and calling in the police, the university has as yet been unwilling to employ more serious tactics to enforce order.

When Columbia suspended him in early April, Parisi was technically required to leave campus and should have been barred from returning without prior approval. The school gave him 24 hours to vacate his on-campus apartment on April 4. Four days later, he posted a statement to his Instagram account detailing his refusal to leave.

"As I am writing this I am sitting in my campus apartment which Columbia University is attempting to illegally evict me from, leaving me housing, food, and healthcare insecure," he wrote. "We will resist institutional repression just as the Palestinians have resisted occupation. … We must remain steadfast in our commitment to university divestment and to a free Palestine."

"Que viva la intifada. … Inshallah, we will rise victorious."

Parisi has advertised his status as a protest leader under the X handle "itsaidanbitch" and was an easily identifiable figure on campus on Monday, sporting a gold chain, large sunglasses, a nose ring, long acrylic fingernails, and a floral basketball jersey worn underneath a keffiyeh.

Parisi posted a photo on April 18 alongside Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D., Minn.) daughter, Barnard College student Isra Hirsi. "Suspended from Columbia club!!!" he wrote. Parisi's other tweets from that day include "Good night. Fuck Israel" and "Good morning to everyone except Israel."

Several Columbia professors held a rally on Monday to express solidarity with Parisi and other suspended students. The Washington Free Beacon observed Parisi speaking warmly with faculty members afterward. Prior to the event, he was filmed leading protesters positioned outside of Columbia's campus gate in chants of "Free, Free Palestine."


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The Free Beacon also spotted Parisi ushering a group of reporters into the encampment zone—those who wish to enter the "Solidarity Camp" must be admitted through a single entry point. Students within the camp formed a "human chain" to remove "Zionists" who entered the area Sunday night, according to a video of the ordeal.

At the time of his suspension, Columbia acknowledged Parisi's decision to stay on campus in violation of his disciplinary terms. A university spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon that the school was continuing to "work through the disciplinary process."

One week later, on April 17, the school threatened to take further disciplinary action against Parisi. "Violations of suspension can lead to further disciplinary measures—we will continue to apply our rules and work through the disciplinary process," a Columbia spokeswoman said.

Parisi gave an interview to the New York Times one day prior, telling the paper he was "fighting his eviction" from on-campus housing because it would require him to find "housing that would accept his emotional support rabbit."

Columbia did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would remove Parisi from campus and, if so, how it planned to do so.

Parisi was suspended over his role in the now-infamous "Palestinian Resistance 101" event, which featured a number of terror-tied speakers who explicitly called for violence against Jews.

Charlotte Kates, a member of the Israeli-designated terror group Samidoun, praised Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack for showing "the potential of a future for Palestine liberated from Zionism," while her husband, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine activist Khaled Barakat, lauded airplane hijackings as "one of the most important tactics that the Palestinian resistance have engaged in."

While Kates and Barakat spoke at the event virtually, Nerdeen Kiswani, founder of anti-Semitic group Within Our Lifetime, addressed attendees in person, telling them to openly support Hamas while acknowledging the group is considered a terrorist organization.

"Don't acquiesce to the idea [of], well, ‘Oh, they're considered a terrorist organization, so we shouldn't talk about resistance,’" Kiswani said of Hamas. "We're kind of like the test subjects or the guinea pigs. We're going to put ourselves out on the line, and you know, if people are okay with it, then they'll jump on it later."

Columbia subsequently banned Kiswani from campus, but she made it through the university gates early Monday morning, where she gave a speech to student protesters.

Parisi's specific role in organizing the "Resistance 101" event is unclear. The event was initially scheduled to take place at Columbia's Barnard College, but student organizers said they were forced to "change rooms" after a student complained to the university. The event was moved to Columbia's "Q House," an "LGBTQ+ special interest community at Columbia University," according to an internal email obtained by the Free Beacon, which was addressed to "comrades."

In the wake of the event, Parisi gave an interview on his suspension to Left Voice, an independent media site that touts its "militant journalism" and "revolutionary politics." He said he refused to comply with Columbia's investigation into the event because he "personally hates the police" and "will never engage with law enforcement." The suspension of student activists at Columbia, he added, gave him "no other option but to be militant."

"I look at this kind of the same way I look at crime," he said. "People are like, OK, this person is stealing. Well, why is this person stealing? Because they have no other option."

"Why is our student body being so militant? Well, because they have no other option."