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Monday, May 20, 2024

Breaking: Pro-Palestine protesters and UW-Madison administration agree on deal to end encampment


Pro-Palestine student protesters and University of Wisconsin-Madison administration reached an agreement to end the Library Mall encampment Thursday in exchange for facilitating discussions into disclosure and investment principles with decision makers at the UW Foundation (WFAA).

Student organizers from the encampment also agreed not to disrupt commencement this Saturday and to follow UW-Madison rules, including policies that prohibit encampments on university property, in future activities. 

Friday marked the 12th day of the encampment, organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Young Democratic Socialists of America, with tents being erected after a rally on April 29

In the days prior, the People’s Kitchen fed the community every night, the Refaat Alareer Memorial Library helped educate people about Israel-Palestine relations over the past 75 years and multiple events such as teach-ins, screen-printing, a Liberation Shabbat and dabke dancing were held.

Organizers demanded full divestment of all UW-Madison companies tied to Israel, disclosure of the UW Foundation’s investment and cuts to Israeli fellowships and study abroad programs. SJP also demanded the university publicly call for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire” in Gaza, remove cops from campus and “stop the land grabs and cease expansion, in order to house our community.” 

“This has been a difficult period for our campus, our nation and the world. We want to be clear that UW–Madison supports peaceful student protest, fully respects the First Amendment, and has done so throughout this year,” the UW-Madison statement said. “We appreciate that the encampment, named by SJP the Gaza Solidarity Encampment, although in violation of Chapter 18, was motivated by understandably passionate feelings about the devastation in Gaza, and was a source of community for many participants.”

In the deal, the university said campus administration does not have authority over how endowment funds are invested but committed to “facilitating access for SJP to relevant decision-makers” to present concerns and requests. UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin will attend this meeting if SJP “so wishes.”

Tod Pritchard, UW Foundation spokesperson, previously told WPR the foundation will “not take directives on how to invest donor money from any parties outside of our board.”

The university also recognized that SJP may “choose to engage in the shared governance process regarding principles of investment.” Shared governance is a form of representation for staff and students at UW-Madison through the Associated Students of Madison and the Faculty Senate.

Administration also expressed interest in working with SJP to enhance “engagement with and support for scholars and students impacted by war, violence, occupation and displacement, including in places such as Gaza and Ukraine.”

This includes a review of student engagement from the International Division, an invitation to a scholar from a Palestinian university for the next three years and a student affairs staff member focused on supporting students “impacted by war, violence and displacement.”

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Administration committed to requesting that UWPD “use its discretion” when reviewing cases from their removal of the encampment on May 1. Officers from the Wisconsin State patrol, Dane County Sheriff's department, the Madison Police Department and UWPD arrested 34 people and booked four to the Dane County Jail.

Student organizations, Mecha de UW-Madison and Anticolonial Scientists are currently under interim suspension during a CSO investigation on antisemitic chalkings found at the Dane County Farmers’ Market. 

Today’s activities at the encampment will continue after tents are taken down. 

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Annika Bereny

Annika Bereny is the Special Pages Editor for the Daily Cardinal and specializes in campus reporting. Follow her on Twitter at @annikabereny.

Noe Goldhaber

Noe Goldhaber is the college news editor and former copy chief for the Daily Cardinal. She is a statistics major and has reported on a wide range of campus issues. Follow her on Twitter at @noegoldhaber.

Tomer Ronen

Tomer Ronen is the Features Editor for the Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @TRonen22.

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