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The 20 Most Woke College Campuses In America

By LightWave Editors · May 3, 2024

With protests and widespread unrest roiling America’s college campuses, the Light Wave staff took a look under the hood of academia to determine which among the nation’s most elite universities are the most radical. We analyzed media reports, government databases and recent surveys to reach our conclusions.

With the four-year cost at many elite institutions approaching half a million dollars, the state of campus politics has become a major consideration for students and families, who wonder whether the radicalization of these schools has become a barrier to the pursuit of knowledge and the earning of a quality academic degree?

Herein is the list of America’s 20 “Most Radical” universities, including a roundup of recent political events at these name-brand campuses.  Wikimedia/Geof Sheppard

20. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tensions flared at UNC as pro-Palestinian protesters stirred controversy Tuesday by removing the American flag from the quad, replacing it with the Palestinian flag. Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts swiftly intervened, reinstating the U.S. flag amid chants of "USA, USA.” The saga, however, continued as the flag was taken down again, prompting classes to be canceled for the day. Confrontations between protesters and law enforcement ensued, resulting in multiple arrests. As night fell, a symbolic gesture of peace emerged as a local man facilitated dialogue between protesters and students, culminating in the raising of a new flag amid cheers and chants.  Wikimedia/William Yeung

19. University of Washington - Seattle

University of Washington students have organized a pro-Palestine protest camp on the northeast side of the Seattle university’s Quad. OnMonday, some 25 demonstrators were at the encampment speaking out against the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The protestors are calling on the university to divest from Boeing, which they claim has aided Israel's occupation in Gaza. The ACLU has issued a statement in support of the UW students' right to demonstrate, emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression. The university has vowed to respond as appropriate to maintain a safe environment for the campus community.  Wikimedia/Punctured Bicycle

18. University of Florida

Law enforcement apprehended nine protesters Monday during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Florida's Plaza of the Americas. Officers from multiple agencies were present as tensions rose between protesters and police. A school spokesperson emphasized adherence to university rules, stating that those arrested knowingly violated regulations. Charges ranged from failure to obey police to felony battery. Law enforcement officials defended their actions as necessary in order to preserve safety and order. As of Tuesday, most of the detainees had been released, except one facing a battery charge with bail set at $5,000.  Wikimedia

17. Georgetown University

On Tuesday, Students from Georgetown University, American University, George Mason University, and George Washington University united in solidarity with Gaza. Demonstrators demanded divestment from companies conducting business with Israel. Georgetown University recently also hosted a "walkout and rally" in support of their cause.  Wikimedia/Duane Lempke

16. University of California at San Diego

California topped the nation in antisemitic incidents in 2023, with over 18% of cases nationwide occurring in the state, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL's report reveals a 140% surge in such incidents nationally, attributing the rise to tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Golden State saw a doubling of incidents, including harassment, vandalism, and assault. College campuses, like UC San Diego, witnessed egregious acts, such as swastikas made of feces in a residence hall. The ADL's data underscores a concerning trend, marking the largest number of antisemitic incidents since tracking began in 1979.  Wikimedia/Alex Hansen

15. University of Chicago

Hundreds of demonstrators continued their occupation of the University of Chicago quad Tuesday, marking the second day of protests. Pro-Palestinian activists vow to remain until their demands are met, with about 40 tents, including medical and library facilities, set up. Dozens of students spent the night in solidarity. One university of Chicago student remarked on the community support, while emphasizing the diverse participation in the ongoing demonstration. Protesters said they were prepared to stay indefinitely.  Wikimedia

14. University of Texas at Austin

Authorities have arrested 79 people during a second police crackdown on pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the UT-Austin. The protesters were charged with criminal trespassing after refusing to disperse from the campus Monday. The arrests come a week after 57 protesters were initially detained, only to have the charges later dropped by the Travis County Attorney due to a lack of probable cause. Officials say the latest charges are more substantive, and the county attorney is reviewing whether to pursue them. University administrators have defended the aggressive response, with the UT Regents Chair vowing to "fully prosecute" any violations of campus policies or state laws.  Wikimedia/Larry D. Moore

13. New York University

More than 150 people were arrested last week at NYU as hundreds of students, faculty, and others gathered at Gould Plaza, demanding that the university divest from companies that sell weapons to Israel. Despite warnings from NYU officials that protesters would face consequences if they failed to clear the area, the demonstration turned confrontational, with some protesters seen throwing objects at police. After the initial crackdown, many demonstrators retreated to nearby streets, where they continued marching through Lower Manhattan.  Wikimedia/New York University

12. Princeton University

Thirteen Princeton University students were arrested Monday for trespassing during a sit-in at the school’s Clio Hall, as they demanded the university divest from Israel and disclose related ties. Despite the university allowing the encampment to continue, Princeton President Eisgruber emphasized the need for campus safety and uninterrupted university operations. The students, meanwhile, vow they will not abandon their cause.  Wikimedia/M.M.Dwyer-Architect

11. University of California at Davis

The StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice filed a complaint last month against UC Davis with the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, alleging failure to address rampant antisemitism on campus. The complaint highlights instances of threatening social media posts by faculty and students, including one by an assistant professor suggesting violence against Zionist journalists. It also accuses Students for Justice in Palestine of celebrating violence and disrupting university functions. The university has yet to publicly address the specific allegations.  Wikimedia/Borawik

10. Cornell University

Cornell University is facing a tense standoff with pro-Palestinian protesters who have set up an encampment on the school’s Arts Quad. University President Martha Pollack has warned that further suspensions may be imposed on students involved in the protests, which began Thursday. The administration offered an alternative protest site, but the demonstrators refused to move, leading to the initial temporary suspensions. As the protests continue to disrupt university operations, Cornell may be forced to take more disciplinary action against the student-led coalition.  Wikimedia/Axel Tschentscher

9. University of California at Berkeley

A Jewish law student at UC Berkeley has alleged he was punched in the face by an anti-Israel protester. Video footage shows the confrontation where the student, Noah Cohen, tried to film the protest when he was blocked by a demonstrator. The two then got into a scuffle, with Cohen claiming he was assaulted. Berkeley has condemned the alleged attack, saying police have opened a criminal investigation.“We continue to carefully monitor the situation, and we will continue to respond strongly to any and all claims of illegal conduct, harassment and/or discrimination,” said a Berkeley spokesperson. Cohen has criticized the protest, noting it claims non-violence until its demands are not met.  Wikimedia/Gku

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pro-Palestinian protesters at MIT danced defiantly on the school’s Kresge Lawn Monday despite President Sally Kornbluth’s calls to disband their encampment. While Kornbluth is open to discussions, she insists the protest must end soon. 

"Right now, I don't see how it could affect graduation. I think it should be OK," graduate student Fardina Habib, told CBS as she watched the protesters continue to dance.  Wikimedia/Mys 721tx

7. Northwestern University

After days of protests, pro-Palestinian student demonstrators at Northwestern reached agreement Monday with the university administration to end their on-campus encampment. Under the deal, protesters will be allowed to gather at the school’s Deering Meadow to voice their support for Palestinians, while the university has promised greater transparency regarding its investments. The deal allows for Northwestern students and faculty to stage protests until June 1. Outsiders will not be permitted to join.  Wikimedia/Rdsmith4

6. University of Pennsylvania

UPenn was caught in a standoff Monday as anti-Israel protesters continued to ignore demands to clear their encampment at the school’s College Green, despite threats of sanction. Students, faculty, and other demonstrators celebrated their defiance, while also refusing to show their university IDs. Penn officials denounce the protesters’ "harassing" actions, including a statue vandalized with antisemitic graffiti, which is now the subject of a hate crime investigation.  Wikimedia/Bryan Y.W. Shin

5. Stanford University

Stanford University raised warnings against pro-Palestine protesters Monday, threatening expulsion for students involved in a growing camp-in at the school’s White Plaza. With tents count at 23 and growing, protesters had demanded that Stanford divest from companies linked to Israel’s military efforts against Palestinians. More than 70% of students support a divestment statement proposed for the university. Stanford, meanwhile, warned that the overnight camping violates university policies and could result in suspension.  Wikimedia/King of Hearts


Violent clashes rocked UCLA early Wednesday as tensions between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters erupted into chaos. Fists flew and sticks were swung in a violent standoff before police finally intervened.Scenes of brutality unfolded as one person was piled upon and beaten before being rescued from the melee. Fireworks lit up the night sky amid clashes outside the pro-Palestinian encampment.Criticism mounted over law enforcement's delayed response, with LAPD and campus police arriving hours after the violence ensued. Despite the mayhem, no arrests were reported.

Outrage rippled across the L.A. area, prompting Mayor Karen Bass to denounce the violence as "abhorrent and inexcusable." As investigations unfold, the possibility of further unrest looms over the campus.  Wikimedia

3. Yale University

Tensions rose at Yale Tuesday as police cleared a pro-Palestine encampment on Cross Campus. Officers blocked access to the area, warning that anyone remaining within the taped-off area would be subject to arrest and "emergency suspension."The Yale Crimson reported the university issued an early-morning ultimatum, giving protesters just minutes to vacate the premises. The encampment was soon cleared of protesters and tents.The dramatic standoff has left the Ivy League campus reeling.  Wikimedia/Pradipta Mitra

T1. Columbia University

NYPD's tactical sweep of Columbia University saw hundreds arrested without injuries Tuesday night as officers cleared Hamilton Hall, which had been occupied by pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Video footage captured officers utilizing strategic maneuvers to access the building, defusing potential violence amid the tense standoff. Mayor Adams lauded the operation's precision, emphasizing the need to prevent protests from turning violent. Columbia, regretful but resolute, called in NYPD amid safety concerns. Possible charges include burglary and trespassing.With tensions high, officials urged peaceful dissent while reinforcing security measures on the shaken campus.  Wikimedia

T1. Harvard University

Chaos erupted at Harvard University Saturday as anti-Israel protesters hoisted a Palestinian flag in the spot usually reserved for the American flag. The act came amid ongoing campus demonstrations that have grown in their intensity. The Harvard Crimson said three students were caught on video raising the Palestinian banner over the John Harvard statue, where the U.S. flag is meant to fly. A university spokesperson condemned the act, stating it violated Harvard's policies. A total of three flags were raised across the campus, further plunging the prestigious university into political tumult.

(This content was created with the help of AI, and edited by a human.)  Wikimedia/Daderot.