Pro-Palestinian encampment set up at UChicago; protesters agree stop camping at NU, school says

ByStephanie Wade, Eric Horng, and Rob Hughes WLS logo
Tuesday, April 30, 2024
U of C pro-Palestinian camp set up; agreement reached to end NU camp
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators set up a UChicago encampment on campus in Hyde Park on Monday.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- Northwestern University leadership said they have reached an agreement with a group of students and faculty who represent pro-Palestinian demonstrators to end the encampment at Deering Meadow.

But another encampment is now set up at the University of Chicago.

NU President Michael Schill, Provost Kathleen Hagerty and Vice President of Student Affairs Susan Davis posted the agreement to the school's website, saying the group representing demonstrators agreed to immediately remove all tents, except one aid tent. They also agreed not to amplified sound without permission.

Students who do not comply could face suspension, and anyone associated with the school must leave.

Northwestern agreed to re-establish a committee for students, faculty and staff to engage with the board of trustees on its investments. The school committed to "answer questions from any internal stakeholder about specific holdings."

The Anti-Defamation League blasted the agreement, saying, "The encampment has been a platform for antisemitism," and "instead of holding the perpetrators accountable, the university rewarded them."

This comes after more than 100 counter-protesters with Israeli flags gathered on Sunday near the tent encampment, which was set up by pro-Palestinian demonstrators last Thursday.

Demonstrators formed a human chain of around the encampment as counter-protesters came near. University police were also there to help to calm the fray.

Demonstrators had been calling for the university to divest in Israel, and a ceasefire in Gaza, joining a nationwide movement at other universities across the country.

SEE ALSO | 1 arrested after police clash with pro-Palestinian demonstrators at UIUC

A rabbi on campus said some Jewish students organized the counter-protest late Saturday, hoping to shed light on voices - he says - are being unheard, right now.

"There was a lot of shouting going on, but then there was also some dialogue that was going on, which I think was very important," Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein. "Some people left the chain in order to discuss."

"They were trying to infiltrate the encampment. The student managed to de-escalate it, which is great. It remained peaceful and now we're back to just having our encampment for divestment," said Faten Dabis, a supporter of encampment demonstrators.

No one was hurt or taken into custody during the conflict Sunday.

Meanwhile, dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters appeared to be setting up for the long haul in the middle of the main quad on the UChicago campus on Monday.

Students there said some of the participants and supplies from Northwestern demonstration have now made their way to UChicago.

A couple hundred protesters, including students, rallied in support of a call to action to the University of Chicago.

Protesters are demanding that the university disclose investments in its endowment, which some say benefit Israel.

"We do want projects that are morally offensive, projects that we disagree with to be divested from," said Lukas, a UChicago student.

So far, it has been a peaceful gathering. Campus police and administrators have been monitoring the encampment and the chants and calls from within it.

UChicago Professor Callie Maidhof supports the students on the quad exercising their right to speak their minds.

"This is part of a movement that's going on across the country, the world of these student protests on university campuses calling for universities to divest," Maidhof said. "The University of Chicago has a very strong stated commitment to free speech, and we really hope that the administration will live up to that promise. Right? I think that none of us really take it for granted."

With tents and rations set up for an extended stay, some students say they'll remain there for as long as it takes.

"We're here to apply real pressure on our university and put a spotlight on our university, because it has this brand that it's very attached to being a very politically neutral institution and one that doesn't take sides and so forth. And this is manifest nonsense," said UChicago student Christopher Iacovetti.

A small contingent of pro-Israel students trickled in and out of the quad throughout Monday afternoon. They told ABC7 out of respect for the Passover holiday, they would not be available for interviews.

Things have quieted down there on Monday evening since the midday rally.

The school says its committed to upholding the students' right to protest, but say setting up tents violates university policy, and is subject to discipline, adding, "The individuals involved are on notice that the University is prepared to take further action in the event of continued violations."

UChicago President Paul Alivisatos posted a statement on the school's website, saying in part, "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."

The dean of students released a statement, saying, "the University is fundamentally committed to upholding the rights of protesters to express a wide range of views. At the same time, University policies make it clear that protests cannot jeopardize public safety, disrupt the University's operations, or involve the destruction of property."