Hamline University’s protest encampment ends with 10 students facing discipline

With both summer break and disciplinary action looming, some 30 student protesters at Hamline University began tearing down their longstanding encampment Thursday outside Old Main, the gothic administrative building off Snelling and Hewitt avenues that houses the office of the university president.

Students, some of them new graduates, said they were still committed to protesting the long-running Israeli bombardment of Gaza and wanted the university to publicly disclose how much money Hamline has invested in Israeli companies and American military contractors, and then ultimately divest from them. They’ve also called for Minnesota’s oldest university to move more quickly to create a “social responsibility committee” to monitor investments and serve as a student voice to the administration.

“There is a process by which such a committee is formed and we remain willing to explore that process with students,” said Jeff Papas, a spokesman for the university, on Thursday.

While relatively small compared to a larger protest effort at the University of Minnesota, Hamline University’s tent encampment has been one of the state’s longest running, extending even past commencement ceremonies last weekend.

Hamline officials have offered a mixed reaction to student demands, at first agreeing to consider the creation of an “src committee” after six student protesters entered the provost’s office within Old Main on April 26 and occupied the building for more than 24 hours.

As commencement approached, student organizers said the administration’s tone shifted, and students learned Monday that at least 10 students would face campus code-of-conduct violations for refusing to remove their tents and defacing a statue of Bishop Leonidas Hamline with signs and masking tape. The bishop’s decorative cap and gown, which had been added for commencement, also disappeared.

Disciplinary hearings for six students could begin next week. Elisa Lopez, a rising junior and co-president of the Hamline student body, said Thursday she had agreed to an alternate resolution process in order to keep her on-campus employment. Lopez said the school’s undergraduate graduation ceremony unfolded Saturday without disruption, though some students attempted to pass Hamline University President Kathleen Murray index cards calling for divestment from Israel.

Murray refused to accept the hand-outs, which piled at her feet.

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