May 14, 2024 - News

CWRU declares student protesters "persona non grata"

Blue sign with "No Trespassing Private Property" on it

Blue "No Trespassing" and "No Encampments" signs surround the Kelvin Smith Library Oval at Case, where a pro-Palestinian student encampment concluded Friday. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Case Western Reserve University has declared some students who participated in a pro-Palestinian encampment "persona non grata," a designation that restricts their campus access and could jeopardize the conferral of their degrees.

Why it matters: Case's commencement ceremonies are this week, and university president Eric Kaler, who threatened students with disciplinary action during the encampment, is intent on preventing disruption.

What they're saying: A Case spokesperson confirmed that the "persona non grata" status is part of its student conduct process and that a "limited number" of students would be banned from campus and temporarily have their degrees withheld.

  • "These actions follow repeated warnings from President Kaler to those remaining in the unsanctioned encampment and, later, to those blocking access to Adelbert Hall that their actions violated university policies and would result in referral to the appropriate conduct process," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Between the lines: The spokesperson said CWRU could not comment on specific cases and declined to comment on the next steps of the student conduct process.

The other side: Students for Justice in Palestine, the suspended student group that organized the encampment, said in a release that more than a dozen students had been sent correspondence naming them "persona non grata."

  • They said they believed they were being targeted for their views on divestment and their ethnicity.

The latest: In a letter to the CWRU community Monday, Kaler announced updated security protocols for commencement, including metal detectors and bag screenings.

Threat level: Kaler reiterated that all campus demonstrations through May 20 must be approved by the university, and that anyone participating in unapproved actions will be subject to the "relevant conduct process."

  • "Our top priority is always the safety of our community," Kaler wrote, "and actions or language — including decorations on mortar boards — that make others feel threatened or intimidated will not be tolerated."

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