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The encampment continues after Pro-Palestine rally ends at 11:35 AM on April 29, 2024.

YDSA receives interim suspensions following pro-Palestine encampment

YDSA is suspended pending an investigation for allegedly violating campus policy and state law during the encampment, a suspension letter from Dean of students, Christina Olstad said. SJP is under a similar CSO investigation.

Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) received an interim suspension on May 22 pending an investigation from the Committee on Student Organizations (CSO) into conduct surrounding the pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is facing a similar investigation, but has not received an interim suspension as of publication, according to documents obtained by The Daily Cardinal. 

SJP and YDSA, registered student organizations (RSOs) at UW-Madison, organized the 12-day pro-Palestine encampment on Library Mall starting April 29. 

According to letters obtained by the Cardinal, SJP and YDSA allegedly violated university policy and law including UWS 18.07(4), a Wisconsin Administrative Code that prohibits camping and picnicking on university property outside of approved areas. 

Other alleged violations include “Discriminatory Harassment,” “Damage to or Theft of Property” and “Disruptive Conduct” among others. 

“I have determined that an interim suspension is necessary to protect the health and safety of members of the University,” Dean of Students Christina Olstad wrote in the letter to YDSA.


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YDSA May 22, 2024 interim suspension letter 1/2


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YDSA May 22, 2024 interim suspension letter 2/2



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SJP investigation letter from May 22, 2024.


 

An interim suspension does not indicate the organizations have been found in violation of CSO policies, according to the CSO resource and policy guide. The Dean of Students or their designee has the discretion to place RSOs on interim suspension during an investigation, according to CSO policy. It is unclear why only YDSA was issued an interim suspension.

In an agreement to end the encampment announced on May 10, university administration agreed to "consider the ending of the encampment and commitment to future compliance with our rules on protests as a favorable mitigating factor of student disciplinary processes."

Organizations facing interim suspension must cease activities pending an investigation and decision from the CSO. The suspension also forbids access to university-owned office space, hosting or co-hosting events and reserving university facilities.

The letter also noted other judicial bodies may pursue or continue their own investigations into YDSA and SJP or its members regarding alleged violations of laws and university policy. UWS 18.07(4) was the only law specifically named in the letter. 

The statute has a provision that allows university chancellors to authorize exemptions to the ban on camping. Mnookin did not grant an exception for the pro-Palestine encampment and authorized campus area police to forcibly remove the encampment on May 1.

Mnookin said a decision to authorize an encampment must be “content neutral” because of the First Amendment at a Faculty Senate meeting on May 6.

“I can’t authorize a single exception to one organization unless I’m prepared to make the same decision for all other groups,” Mnookin said.

On May 6, RSOs Anticolonial Scientists and Mecha de UW Madison received interim suspensions while the CSO investigated complaints alleging the organization’s co-hosted an event that resulted in antisemitic chalkings found at the Dane County Farmers’ Market.

UW-Madison confirmed that both YDSA and SJP were under investigation, and that only YDSA was on an interim suspension in a May 23 update. UW-Madison declined to comment on why only YDSA was issued an interim suspension.

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