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UChicago administrators meet with encampment organizers as protest enters day 4

HYDE PARK, Ill. – A pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Chicago enters day four today.

The university said it would allow an encampment for a “short time” in the interest of free speech. It began shortly after Northwestern University’s encampment ended.

Administrators reportedly met Wednesday with the organizers, according to campus newspaper The Chicago Maroon.

A Northwestern activist previously told The College Fix the supplies from its tent city might be heading to UChicago.

On April 29, pro-Palestine protesters started camping on the Main Quad. Later that afternoon, UChicago president Paul Alivisatos and dean of students Michelle Rasmussan sent out emails to the entire student body outlining how the university would respond.

President Alivisatos’ email stated that “free expression is the core animating value of the University of Chicago” and that “the general principle we will abide by is to provide the greatest leeway possible for free expression.”

He wrote “the general principle we will abide by is to provide the greatest leeway possible for free expression” and “for a short period of time… the impact of a modest encampment does not differ so much from a conventional rally or march.”

“Given the importance of the expressive rights of our students, we may allow an encampment to remain for a short time despite the obvious violations of policy—but those violating university policy should expect to face disciplinary consequences,” he also wrote.

The Fix visited the encampment on Monday and observed around 300 people, many tents, many signs, speakers, and canopies and tables for serving food. “We will honor all our martyrs” and “Free Palestine,” some signs said.

The protestors were unwilling to chat or answer questions; they appeared to have been trained not to talk to visitors. Some of the protestors appeared to be neither students nor faculty.

Around 20 police officers were present as well, and some of them were having conversations with protestors. Police told The Fix they “have no information,” other than what the university had sent out via email to everyone.

The Palestine Solidarity Encampment demands include: “Cut ties with the Israel Institute,” end all partnerships with “Israeli institutions,” divestment, and transparency with university investments, according to an Instagram post. They also want “reparations to Palestine and the South Side [of Chicago],” according to The Chicago Maroon.

The past several days have mainly included teach-ins and rallies, with some Chicago Public Students joining in the protest.

Israel supporters have set up counter demonstrations and displays, as reported by The Chicago Maroon.

“Not another nickel, not another dime, bombing children is a crime,” high schoolers chanted during a Wednesday rally.

A Hyde Park resident, mother of two alumni, and former Trump administration official criticized the ongoing encampment.

“I grew up in this community, I sent both my kids to University of Chicago undergrad, [and] invested half a million dollars in their education, which is now being devalued,” Bonnie Glick told the campus newspaper.

“The value of their degrees is diminished. It’s the same at every one of the elite universities, where parents have invested and children are squandering the investment.”

MORE: More than 70 anti-Israel encampments have now been held on campuses nationwide

IMAGES: Benjamin Ogilvie for The College Fix

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About the Author
Benjamin Ogilvie -- University of Chicago