Columbia protester mocked after asking for food for occupiers

A pro-Palestine Columbia University protester has been mocked for demanding the Ivy League school provide students who had occupied a building with food and “basic humanitarian aid”.

In an impassioned plea, Johannah King-Slutzky, a PhD student in English and comparative literature, warned that students illegally occupying university property could “die of dehydration and starvation” if they were not given supplies.

“Like, could people please have a glass of water?’’ Ms King-Slutzky, 33, told reporters outside Hamilton Hall, which had been overrun by protesters.

“Do you want students to die of dehydration and starvation or get severely ill even if they disagree with you? If the answer is no, then you should allow basic… I mean, it’s crazy to say because we’re on an Ivy League campus, but this is like basic humanitarian aid we’re asking for,’’ she added.

A journalist replied: “It seems like you’re sort of saying: ‘We want to be revolutionaries, we want to take over this building, now would you please bring us some food and water’.’’

Responding, Ms King-Slutzky said: “Nobody’s asking them to bring anything.

“We’re asking them to not violently stop us from bringing in basic humanitarian aid.’’

Ms King-Slutzky then clarified that she was not sure if the university had tried to stop supplies being brought to the protesters.

“We are looking for a commitment from them that they will not stop it,’’ she said. “I do not know to what extent it has been attempted. But we’re looking for a commitment.’’

The protester also said she believed the university was obliged to provide food to any student occupiers who had paid for a meal plan as part of their fees.

On her website, which has now been taken down, Ms King-Slutzky described herself as a “video editor and full-service digital comms expert for progressive and leftist causes”.

The activist, who is from New York, was also a member of the student workers’ union. During strikes in 2021 she described herself and her colleagues as “lambs being raised for the slaughter”.

Ms King-Slutzky’s university research is focused on “theories of the imagination and poetry as interpreted through a Marxian lens in order to update and propose an alternative to historicist ideological critiques of the Romantic imagination”, according to her Columbia University profile, which has also been removed.

She is the daughter of psychologists Mitchell Slutzky and Beth King.

Mr Slutzsky, who runs a private practice specialising in dementia care, was most recently listed as living at a property on the Upper East Side which was put up for sale earlier in 2024 for $1.3 million (£1 million).

Her mother studied her PhD in clinical psychology at Teachers College Columbia in the 1980s, according to her LinkedIn profile.

In 2015 Ms King-Slutzky wrote a 2,360 word article on “the theory of normcore food” in which she described pickles, Greek yogurt and quinoa as “high-stakes trendy foods with loads of moral and aesthetic baggage”.

Earlier on Tuesday, videos of people passing food to women inside a gate at Columbia were shared online.

Police entered Columbia's campus and arrested protesters on Tuesday nightPolice entered Columbia's campus and arrested protesters on Tuesday night

Police entered Columbia’s campus and arrested protesters on Tuesday night – Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Protesters last week ate a diet of Pret-A-Manger sandwiches and $17 roasted mixed nuts, according to the New York Post.

Police arrested 119 people barricaded inside Hamilton Hall on Tuesday night, New York mayor Eric Adams said.

The protests have been raging at the university for almost two weeks and have spread to campuses in more than two dozen US states.

On Tuesday Joe Biden, the US president, accused the group at Columbia of hate speech and said their occupation was wrong.

Officials at Columbia have accused activists of vandalism, including breaking doors and windows.

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