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HomeNewsCampus NewsEncampment Day 5: Negotiation updates, faculty rally, UC Riverside reaches agreement 

Encampment Day 5: Negotiation updates, faculty rally, UC Riverside reaches agreement 

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The UCI Gaza Solidarity Encampment maintained its space at the Physical Sciences Quad for a fifth day on May 3. Negotiations between the protesters and UCI administration continued as pro-Palestine groups demanded UCI divestment from companies financially supporting Israel. 

At around 10:00 p.m. on May 2, encampment protesters made an announcement on Instagram  regarding ongoing negotiations with UCI. The following day, UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman sent out a campuswide email also regarding negotiating logistics so far. 

According to protesters, official negotiations began on April 29, the first day of encampment. Two days later, the administration extended a proposal to which protesters responded with a counter-proposal. After reading the proposal to the crowd, which included meeting with protesters to discuss UCI Foundation’s investments and funding, giving amnesty to disciplined students, and recognizing incidents of harassment submitted to the OEOD, they explained the counter-proposal which includes the same demands as before but in greater detail.

“We met with them and we said that this did not meet any of our demands at all and didn’t even touch the basic surface level of their demands…So then today [May 2] we met with them again and we proposed our own draft agreement of what we wanted,” the announcer said last night to the encampment community. 

Members of the negotiation team from the administration side include the president of the foundation and vice chancellor for University Advancement, Brian Hervey, and the assistant vice chancellor of Student Affairs Edgar Dormitorio, along with some trustee members.

In Gillman’s update, he says that the counter-proposal introduced new requests that were not in the protestors’ initial set of demands. Gillman further explains that some of these demands challenge the school’s core mission, including the calls for external partnerships to end, demands for divestment and defunding of UCI Police Department.

An encampment protester, who requested anonymity, emphasized that their message to administration is that once demands are met, they plan to pack up and leave. 

As of May 3, UCI is one of the few universities negotiating with student protesters. Other administrations like Ohio State University and University of Connecticut immediately involved police after protests established their own encampments or rallies. 

At 2:00 p.m. on May 3, UCI faculty members and the Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UCI (FJP at UCI) led a rally. Hosted behind the encampment in front of Rowland Hall, faculty speakers expressed their support for students as well as their condemnation of the university for both punishing students and not supporting their cause. Faculty also called for the rest of the community to continue to support protesting students. 

“The students are here taking risks every single moment that they’re here in the encampment. They’re working on negotiations. But this is not just their fight,” a speaker at the rally said. 

New University spoke with lecturer Brook Haley, a faculty member inside the encampment, who explained that he received direct emails “reminding [him] of the existing policy not to use instructional time for explicit political activism.” 

“The stupid metaphor has been wearing different hats, but I don’t think it’s that simple,” Haley said. “I can’t take off my teacher hat and put on my activist hat. But instead, with students who ask me and are interested in understanding where I’m coming from, I’m not afraid, outside of my instructional time, to share my personal experiences and beliefs about activism.” 

He says that he has been careful not to break any university policies, knowing that “reprimands, pay docking, and restrictions of employment are all possible repercussions.” 

Haley also explained that the warnings are “easy to avoid” for him due to the nature of his course. He says his classroom can offer new frames, terms and concepts for students to “better understand the situation they are presented with.”

“I make sure that we think of it as conflicting ideologies that you have to understand to understand the rhetoric that each side is using,” he said. 

According to Haley, another UCI professor was holding office hours inside the camp and hosted a review session for their course midterm. All students were required to undergo a voluntary onboarding process to enter the encampment, which included listing their name, an emergency contact, and more. 

The encampment protester told New University how grateful they were to have the support of FJP and UCI faculty on their side. 

“It does get a bit overwhelming. Sometimes it’s like, ‘oh, is it only us students?’ But then seeing the community, faculty, staff, everyone out here, like, supporting us and doing their own rallies for us as well and bringing awareness to it has been really, really great,” the protestor said.

Meanwhile, student protestors from the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at UC Riverside (SJPUCR) reached an agreement with UC Riverside administration on May 3, five days after their encampment began. This agreement marked the first UC school to peacefully end a campus encampment. According to a statement from UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox the removal of the tents is already underway and will come down by midnight tonight.

Lead SJPUCR negotiator Samia Alkam called the agreement the “first step,” and said she would be ready to plan another encampment if no additional progress is made in an SJP Instagram livestream made shortly after the agreement was reached. 

The terms include the publishing of all public information on investments on the UCR website and the creation of a task force to “explore the removal of UCR’s endowment from the management of the UC Investments Office,” by the end of the spring 2024 quarter. 

The agreement explicitly mentions Sabra Hummus, which is co-managed by Israeli manufacturer Strauss Group. Alkam calls the wording “very vague,” but hopes that the agreement will lead to the removal of Sabra Hummus products on campus. The Chancellor’s office states that “Sabra’s availability on campus will be reviewed in the same manner as other vendors.”  

Another clause states that UCR will modify its study abroad program approval process, which according to Alkam, will remove the option to apply to a study abroad trip to Israel from the school’s study abroad portal. Alkam says she will continue working with the study abroad office to remove all advertising about Israel on their website. 

During her speech, Alkam expressed solidarity with all other encampments and signaled that the movement can now “put [their] full support toward UC Irvine and UCLA.”  

“I chose to get the ball rolling for other administrations and for these chancellors to see that this is what happens when you stand with your students,” Alkam said.   

Skylar Paxton is an Opinion Apprentice. She can be reached at paxtons@uci.edu

Emilie Takahashi is a Campus News Staff Writer. She can be reached at takahae1@uci.edu.