Updated May 1, 2024 - News

San Diego students join growing Pro-Palestinian campus protests

Data: Axios research; Note: Universities with joint encampments reported separately; Locations approximated for clarity; Map: Kavya Beheraj, Tory Lysik and Will Chase/Axios

Students at UC San Diego established a "Gaza solidarity" encampment Wednesday, joining the national movement of campus protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and divestment in Israel.

The big picture: College campuses across the country have become hotspots for protests over the Israel-Hamas war, with pro-Palestinian demonstrators facing an increased crackdown from school administrators, Axios' Ivana Saric writes.

State of play: The gathering on the UCSD Library Walk is one of at least 14 encampments or sit-ins reported on California college campuses.

Flashback: In March, about 2,500 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through UCSD's campus, marking one of the largest protests in university history.

Zoom in: The UCSDivest Coalition, organizers of the encampment, is calling on UCSD to boycott institutional and research partnerships with Department of Defense contractors and Israeli companies, universities and government agencies, City News Service reported.

  • Protesters are also demanding that UCSD "publicly condemn the destruction of over 80% of schools and all 12 universities in Gaza in a systematic dismantling of infrastructure that UN experts have termed scholasticide," a statement from the organization reads.
  • They're also seeking amnesty for people associated with the encampment.

What they're saying: UCSD's chancellor, Pradeep K. Khosla, said in a statement the encampment violates campus policy" and could result in "interim suspension, suspension, dismissal or legal action."

  • The university supports the right to peacefully protest and express views on campus, but it must also protect the physical safety of its community and prevent "undue disruption," Khosla said.
  • UCSD previously said it has "consistently opposed calls for a boycott against and divestment from Israel … a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty and to the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses."

Reality check: Some experts say divesting from companies with links to Israel would have little impact on those firms, CNN has reported.

Driving the news: The encampment comes as University of San Diego students led a "requiem for the dead and dying in Gaza" memorial Wednesday and hundreds of San Diego State University students marched through that campus Tuesday with similar demands.

Between the lines: SDSU's Students for Justice in Palestine, organizers of the walkout there, is asking the university to disclose all its financial holdings, condemn the "scholasticide" and "divest financially from Israel's war on Gaza and occupation in Palestine and academically from Israeli institutions."

  • SDSU students have not yet set up encampments or organized sit-ins, which could violate university policy.
  • The San Diego County Sheriff's Department sent deputies as backup for campus police and SDPD had its mobile field force on standby, but no incidents or arrests were reported.

The other side: In response to the demonstration, SDSU officials said the school allows for "constitutionally protected free speech and an individual's right to acts of peaceful protest" and referred questions about investments to the California State University System.

  • University safety officials and administrators from the division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity are in contact with members of the school's Jewish, Islamic, Arab and Palestinian communities.

What's next: San Diego State's commencement is next week, and no mass protests or encampments are currently threatening that.

  • The university did not answer questions about safety concerns or increased security for commencement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new developments of campus protests.

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