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Charges dropped against UChicago ‘United for Palestine’ sit-in trespassers

Students still face university discipline

Cook County will not pursue misdemeanor charges against students and faculty who staged a sit-in, prosecutors announced during a recent hearing.

During the Dec. 20 hearing, “state prosecutors dropped all charges against the 26 students and two faculty members arrested during a sit-in of Rosenwald Hall on November 9 organized by UChicago United for Palestine,” The Chicago Maroon reported.

University officials sought “criminal trespass to real property,” charges, according to the student newspaper. Students and two faculty members began the sit-in at 11:15 in the morning on Nov. 9. The university began arrests at 6:15 p.m., the campus newspaper previously reported.

However, the protesters will not necessarily get off without any punishment.

“The arrested protestors still face a lengthy legal process to have their records expunged and a litany of University disciplinary charges despite the charges being dropped,” the student newspaper reported. “According to Youssef Hasweh, a fourth-year Palestinian student who was among the arrested and charged, the University required arrested protestors to attend disciplinary hearings during finals week.”

The Maroon spoke to a different, unnamed student, who said being arrested only inspired them they were doing the right thing.

“The moment when the police sergeant came in and said, ‘We’re going to arrest you if you don’t leave,’ I just felt this clarity and the sense that I have to stay here. This is what I have to do,” the student said, according to the newspaper. “What’s happening in Palestine is just so horrific, and I feel it is my duty to do whatever is in my power to bring attention to that and hopefully to bring a stop to it.”

Hasweh said campus activist plan to demand a meeting with the university president, Paul Alivisatos, and will petition for divestment from weapons manufacturers.

The charges would not deter future activism, the group also stated prior to the hearing.

UChicago United for Palestine wrote on Instagram:

UChicago Admin is subjecting its students to disciplinary action and criminal charges because they believe criminalizing students will allow them to avoid accountability for their own criminal investments. But the arrested students have a message: UChicago’s repressive tactics will not silence us, and we will not back down from our demands for a public meeting, transparency, and full divestment from Israel’s genocide against Palestinians.

The State’s Attorney’s Office is currently led by Kim Foxx, who has come under fire for being soft on crime. She is not running for re-election in 2024.

Other pro-Palestinian protesters have faced sanctions by their university. The University of Michigan arrested 40 people in November after hundreds of activists forcibly entered the Ruthven Administration Building, The College Fix previously reported.

Brown University students were also arrested for their protest in December.

“Forty-one Brown University students were arrested and booked by police for occupying a campus building [on Dec. 11] to demand the university divest from Israel and call for a ceasefire in Gaza,” The Fix previously reported.

MORE: 71 things higher ed declared racist in 2023

IMAGE: UChicago United for Palestine/Instagram

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.