Campus Watch June 5, 2024

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on school campuses.
June 6, 2024

Pro-Palestinian Protesters Block Traffic at Westwood Plaza

More than 300 pro-Palestinian protesters reportedly blocked traffic at Westwood Plaza on June 3.

According to The Daily Bruin, the protesters marched from Dickson Plaza to the intersection of Westwood Plaza and Le Conte Avenue, where they “occupied the area” and “hosted a teach-in about union organizing and the war in Gaza.” UCLA alumnus Andrew Lewis posted on X that the protesters had “cut off access via Westwood Blvd into the heart of the UCLA Campus” and “obstructed” the “main entry-point into UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.” The Bruin posted on X that the protesters eventually “moved from the road to a lawn adjacent to Le Conte Avenue” after talking to police. Among the reported chants at the intersection included “occupation is a crime” and “we are the intifada,” according to a post on X from the Bruin. 

UCLA Vice Chancellor Mary Osako said in a June 3 statement, “Today, the union shut down streets that patients use to get critical medical care, the same streets that students use to get to class. Why is the union punishing students who are just trying to learn?” UAW Local 4811 members were reportedly among those who planned the protest; they are striking due to the university allowing “police to use force on members of the union during the sweep of the Palestine solidarity encampment,” reported the Bruin.

Pro-Palestinian Protesters Establish Encampment During Columbia Alumni Weekend

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University built another encampment during the university’s alumni reunion weekend and then subsequently removed it.

The Columbia Daily Spectator reported on June 2 that the “Revolt for Rafah” encampment  lasted more than 48 hours on the west side of the university’s South Lawn before the protesters removed it; they left a cardboard sign saying, “We’ll Be Back B—es.” The protesters had erected 10 tents on May 31; shortly thereafter, public safety officers removed five of the tents and told the protesters that they had to leave. Protesters surrounded their central white tent with wooden tables and chairs, per the Spectator.

“Demonstrators established the encampment both to disrupt Columbia’s annual alumni reunion weekend and in response to the Israeli military’s invasion of Rafah, a southern city in Gaza and a key access point for humanitarian aid,” the Spectator reported. “Protesters called for alumni to withhold donations from the University and demanded that the University divest from companies with ties to Israel, offer full financial transparency, and grant amnesty for disciplined student protesters.”

“Free Palestine” Graffiti Outside of UMich Jewish Board of Regent’s Office 

Graffiti stating “Free Palestine” and “Divest Now” were found outside of the law office of Jordan Acker, a member of the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents.

Other graffiti found stated, “UM Kills” and “F— you Acker,” reported Jewish Insider (JI). Acker, who is Jewish, told JI, “It’s a disgusting escalation and pure antisemitism. This has nothing to do with Palestine. I am one of eight [regents] and I was the only person targeted. I believe that’s because I’m Jewish. I believe this was a message to be sent to the Jewish community.” 

DePaul Students Pass Referendum to Divest from Israel

Students at DePaul University voted in favor of a referendum calling on the university to divest from Israel.

According to The College Fix, the referendum called for the university to ‘divest from companies that directly profit from the suffering of Palestinians.’” The referendum received 91% support of students who voted. The DePaul Divest Coalition said in a statement posted to Instagram, “This referendum makes support of divestment a binding position of the Student Government Association for the entirety of the upcoming academic year and therefore codifies the legitimacy of our movement into the shared governance of the institution — though of course, much more work is needed to push the Trustees and senior administration into committing to implement this overwhelming call for divestment made by the student body.”

A spokesperson for the university told The DePaulia student newspaper, “We recognize and appreciate the activism of our students, but the university disagrees with their call to divest from Israel.”

House Committee Requests SJP Provide Documents on Funding, Communication

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a May 29 letter to National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) requesting that the organizations provide “documents and information … to facilitate oversight into how pro-Hamas propaganda and illegal encampments are being funded.”

Comer’s requests included asking the organizations to provide “all documents and communications related to National SJP’s funding,” “all documents and communications related to the October 7, 2023, terrorist attack by Hamas, including, but not limited to, documents and communications related to National SJP’s public facing responses to the Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack by Hamas” and “all documents and communications, regardless of topic, created on or sent between Oct. 6, 2023 – Oct. 8, 2023, inclusive.” AMP, according to Comer, “founded and controlled” NSJP. The organizations have until June 12 to provide the information requested by the committee.

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