Tufts calls for end of pro-Palestinian encampment on campus

Tufts calls for end of pro-Palestinian encampment on campus


Tufts University on Sunday called on pro-Palestinian protesters to end the encampment they have established on the academic quad on the university’s Medford/Somerville campus as the school prepares for commencement, a move that came a day after a similar encampment at Northeastern University was cleared by police.

While university officials, including President Sunil Kumar, said they supported the students’ right to protest, they said they saw “behavior that clearly is trying to escalate the situation.”

“Protesters, including some who are unaffiliated with Tufts, have created conditions that have caused multiple community members and guests to lodge formal complaints,” the letter signed by Kumer and other high-ranking officials reads.

Officials at Tufts said they have attempted to stay in communication with the protesters in order to avoid the escalation seen at other universities in greater Boston and across the nation and had delayed some commencement preparations to allow for the peaceful resolution of the protest.

“Now the encampment must end, ideally peacefully and voluntarily, so we can prepare the campus for Commencement,” officials wrote. Staff at the school would be reaching out to protesters to Monday morning to plan for the end of the encampment, they wrote.

“The class of 2024 deserves to be celebrated. Many of this year’s graduates experienced the restrictions and losses of the pandemic and missed out on important life events including the opportunity to participate in their high school graduations,” the letter reads.

A protest at the university on Friday, while peaceful, violated several university policies when demonstrators entered a classroom, blocked paths and “defaced, stickered, and scrawled obscene language on buildings throughout the campus.”

“Even beloved spaces such as Alex’s Place on the Tisch Library roof and the Jumbo statue were marred,” the letter reads.

The university also received numerous complaints from visitors to campus over the weekend, including students on admissions tours. Those complaints accused protesters of “harassment, intimidation … and aggressive tactics.” Officials pledged to investigate every complaint and hold those responsible accountable.

Officials accused protesters of trying to “escalate and disrupt normal university activity” and said exchanges with college staff are often followed by claims of threats and intimidation on protesters’ social media accounts.

“Let us be perfectly clear: these claims are simply inaccurate and can only be seen as an attempt to further inflame the community by deliberately misrepresenting the situation,” the letter reads.

University leaders said they would not discuss the possibility of meeting with student organizers until they took down the encampment and cleared the academic quad, writing that “protesters’ actions increasingly come at the expense of their fellow students’ rights” and a meeting could not be a “reward” for such behavior.

“We are deeply troubled by the tremendous loss of Palestinian life, and we desire to work with all members of our community to support both the Palestinian and the Israeli people,” the letter reads. ”It is time to celebrate the class of 2024.”

In an Instagram post on Sunday, the Tufts chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine said protesters would not leave until their demands, which include disclosure and divestment of investments in Israel and ending the sale of Israeli products at dining locations on campus, were met.

“We are in need of all support … as we defend our Gaza Solidarity Encampment against Tufts admin escalation,” they wrote.

Over the weekend, more than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested at an encampment at Northeastern University, just days after the arrest of 118 protesters at Emerson College.

The number of arrests nationwide approached 900 since New York police removed a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at Columbia University and arrested more than 100 demonstrators on April 18, the Associated Press reported.


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