Encampments remain at local college campuses as antiwar protests continue

Some students said they’re not backing down after Tufts University pressured pro-Palestinian protesters to move their encampments ahead of the May 19 graduation.

“It sucks if you feel unsafe but some people actually are unsafe,” said a Sophomore at Tufts University.

As protestors continue calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and asking the school to stop all financial ties with Israel, they said they’re not moving their encampments from the Academic Quad in Medford.

“All eyes on Gaza, we’re not backing down,” said a representative of the Students for Justice in Palestine for Tufts.

After negotiations with students failed Tuesday, Tufts University President Sunil Kumar sent a letter saying the encampment has to end so they can start setting up for commencement or students could face discipline or forcible removal.

“I think you guys have time we all have to be off campus by May 10th so I don’t know forcing us to move in the last four days is kind of ridiculous,” said the student.

In response to the President, more than 250 students signed a letter saying in part:

“We wish to be resoundingly clear: any commencement “celebration” built on violently sweeping, arresting, or otherwise harassing the Gaza solidarity encampment is not a celebration in which we would partake.”

A Tufts University spokesperson, Patrick Collins, said the two sides have made contact, saying in part:

As previously reported, the university issued a no trespass order to the protesters in the encampment on its academic quad yesterday evening. Today, President Kumar has met with protest leaders in the spirit of exploring every path possible for a peaceful and voluntary resolution and a successful Commencement for our graduates and their loved ones. We have no further updates at this time.

Ilina Smaletz, a Jewish student and Co-President of Chabad said she feels threatened and thinks the school needs a stronger reason for asking the students to move out.

“What’s the next step, what is a reason that you’re giving for them to have to take the tents down other than the blatant antisemitism that’s been happening across this campus?” said Smaletz.

MIT’s graduation is scheduled for May 31st on campus at Killian Court and is undergoing similar protests.

“In the interim, we’ve continued to prioritize safety for the entire community. The gathering is on a single lawn, and MIT has set up fencing along adjacent pathways to ensure students can pass the area with a feeling of security. Student Life staff, faculty, and MIT Police have been present on an ongoing basis,” said Kimberly Allen, Institute Office of Communications, MIT.

(John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP, File)
(John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP, File)

Boston 25 News was at Northeastern last Saturday when a mix of student and outsider protestors were detained and their tents removed after the school said they violated their code of conduct. Boston 25 reached out to the school asking if protestors have returned but hasn’t gotten a response. Northeastern’s graduation is scheduled for Sunday at Fenway Park.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said she’s keeping in contact with local schools ahead of commencement plans.

“It really depends on where the location is, some of them are on campus and therefore it’s their property and we work to support them.

Boston 25 also reached out to Emerson where protestors were arrested and later not charged, the school has not commented on whether or not protestors have returned. Their graduation is scheduled for May 12th at the Agganis arena.

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