UW encampment protesters want school to cut ties with Israel, Boeing

UW encampment protesters want school to cut ties with Israel, Boeing


University of Washington students Monday set up an encampment on the Quad, joining similar efforts at dozens of campuses across the nation where students are demanding their schools end financial ties to Israel.

Encampments have also popped up at other universities in the state, including at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

At the UW, dozens of people — both those participating in the encampment and those observing — gathered at the Quad, with about 40 gathering by late afternoon.

Chants of, “No more weapons, no more war, liberation is what we’re for,” and, “From Palestine to the Philippines, stop the U.S. war machine,” echoed in the otherwise empty heart of campus.

Six tents stood in the grass in front of Miller Hall. Nearby, signs around the Quad stated, “No camping allowed,” and noted state law prohibiting camping on the campus. People who violate the camping ban are “subject to arrest and criminal prosecution under applicable state, county and city laws,” according to the Washington Administrative Code.

Some protesters altered a sign to say, “ALL camping allowed,” and, “ANYONE may use university facilities to camp.”

Protesters also hung up a paper setting “rules and guidelines,” calling on protesters not to engage with counterprotesters and to “think of community members.”

Throughout the day, a handful of counterprotesters stood across from the encampment, holding Israeli flags.

Nearly 1,000 students have been arrested at campuses across the country since April 18, when Columbia University had the New York Police Department clear a protest encampment there. About 275 were arrested during crackdowns Saturday alone, including at Northeastern University in Boston, Arizona State University, Indiana University and Washington University in St. Louis.

UW spokesperson Victor Balta said in an email the school would monitor the situation and “respond as appropriate to maintain a safe and secure environment for our campus community.”

Mathieu Chabaud, a 20-year-old student with the Progressive Student Union organizing the encampment, said the group plans to continue the encampment until President Ana Mari Cauce meets their demands: that UW divests from supporting the Israeli government financially, including cutting off study abroad programs to the country, and cuts ties with Boeing, which has manufactured products arming the Israel Defense Forces for decades.

Protesters are also calling on the university “to end the oppression of the pro-Palestinian staff, students and faculty” by not charging students with conduct violations in connection with recent protests, for example, said Chabaud, a second-year mathematics student at UW.

Mantak Singh, a Progressive Student Union founder, said he faced a count of first-degree criminal trespass after a sit-in demonstration in Gerberding Hall in December.

He still has no idea if he’s actually being prosecuted, he said.

“We have nothing to hide,” Singh said by the encampment Monday. “We did nothing wrong.”

“I intend to be out here until I see an email in my inbox from the presidents of this university saying they agreed to our demands,” Chabaud said.

Chabaud said his action is inspired by what he saw as an 8-year-old in Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Monday’s encampment was originally planned for Thursday before being postponed after criticism the PSU failed to include Arab and Palestinian voices in its leadership.

“I’m gonna keep this brief just because of internal dynamics,” Chabaud said. “We spent a lot of time consulting other groups. And the conclusion that we came to was to start this on Monday.”

UW has a long history of partnership with Boeing. The university is home to a research collaboration with the company for aerospace scholarship, offers professional education programs to current Boeing employees and is home to a professorship and department named after Boeing. The aerospace company is among the top employers of engineering graduates from the school and has donated millions to UW.

Boeing helped develop Israel’s Arrow 3 missile defense system, which was used against retaliatory attacks by Iran, and provided bombs to the government after the Oct. 7 attack by the militant group Hamas.

Portland State University on Friday said it will pause seeking or accepting further gifts or grants from Boeing, after demands from students and faculty.

The protesters at the University of Washington said Monday they would chant at 20 minutes past the hour, each hour, when students are walking to and from class.

Lingering by the encampment Monday, second-year friends Sierra Coleman, Leila Donyaei and Nathan Chien talked about the newest development on the Quad.

They said they hadn’t known much about UW’s ties to Boeing or the company’s relationship with Israel, and worried about how the university might respond to the encampments.

“For the university to have signs that say, ‘No camping allowed,’ I just feel like it’s a waste of an opportunity to really talk about a very complex, very important, pivotal geopolitical issue of our time,” Chien said. “I would be very mad, very angry if they decide to forcibly remove what are very peaceful people.”

In Olympia, students affiliated with a now roughly weeklong encampment at The Evergreen State College have provided a list of demands and were set to meet with administrators Monday afternoon, according to Kelly Von Holtz, a spokesperson for the college. Students have already met with administrators several times.

In a statement, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington’s integrated advocacy director, Vanessa Torres Hernandez, urged college administrators to “honor and defend the First Amendment rights of demonstrators.”

As of Monday, Israel’s war in Gaza has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, around two-thirds of them children and women, according to local health officials.

The war was sparked by the Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel in which Hamas killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

The Northwest reacts to the Israel-Hamas war

UW students on the Seattle campus have had events denouncing the violence in Gaza for months, including a vigil for Palestinians who have been killed and protests against UW’s War in the Middle East Lecture Series, according to the student-led newspaper The Daily.

Protesters have pointed to Cauce’s refusal to meet with them as one reason for their escalating actions.

Earlier in April, the United Front for Palestinian Liberation had a sit-in overnight at the Husky Union Building, during which walls were vandalized with pro-Palestinian statements and a demonstrator reportedly made racist comments to The Daily news editor. The next day, Cauce wrote on UW’s presidential blog that freedom of speech is protected but “threatening and harassing people, scrawling graffiti on walls … and damaging student art is unacceptable and wrong.”

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. Seattle Times staff reporter Catalina Gaitán contributed to this report.


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top