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Emerson College bails out pro-Palestinian students, offers extended housing for court

‘I could feel the pain expressed by those arrested,’ president says

Emerson College is providing bail and extended housing to students who were arrested during the clearing of a recent a pro-Palestinian encampment, according to campus leaders.

Jay Bernhardt, president of the private Boston college, said in a statement this week that he sympathizes with the students who were arrested during the late April protest on campus.

“I deeply regret that despite our best efforts, our students’ activism resulted in police action over their encampment, especially in the heartbreaking way it occurred,” Bernhardt said. After listening to students’ stories, “I could feel the pain expressed by those arrested, those who cared for them, and those who were adversely affected by the encampment.”

The college will not discipline any protesters, he said in an earlier statement. Additionally, Emerson will provide bail and extended housing to students who were arrested and need to stay after the semester is over for court appearances, according to the statement.

Bernhardt said he also will encourage the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office to drop charges against the students.

City police arrested 118 protesters after repeated warnings to break up their pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, according to the statement.

Four police officers were injured, including one who sustained serious injuries, MassLive reports. Most of the arrests involve charges of unlawful assembly and disturbing the peace, according to Boston police.

Jewish advocacy organizations are criticizing Emerson’s leniency with the student protesters.

“Emerson is covering bail costs for 108 of their student protesters who were arrested for illegal encampments and may face court appearances …” the American Jewish Committee wrote on X. “Higher education should not be coddling this kind of activism. Universities should not be picking up the tab for extremists.”

The Anti-Defamation League also criticized the college on its website, saying administrators must hold protesters accountable in order to “counter antisemitic hostility and ensure the safety of Jewish students on campus.”

Meanwhile, Bernhardt said in his statement that Emerson College will not take a side in the Middle Eastern conflict. He also said administrators are working to form a campus bias rapid response team to deal with conflicts in the future.

“Emerson has continued to be supportive in multiple ways – sending staff to all the precincts and posting bail for arrested students, canceling and modifying classes so our community could process what had occurred, and providing additional care and support for our community to heal,” he said.

More than 2,000 protesters have been arrested at anti-Israel campus protests across the country in recent weeks, according to the Associated Press.

Some universities have reported millions of dollars in damage, including graffiti and garbage, caused by protesters.

MORE: Northwestern journalism professor counts terrorism supporter among his ‘comrades’

IMAGE: Emerson Students for Justice in Palestine/Instagram

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.