Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeNewsCampus NewsEncampment Day 9: UCI statement, negotiations continue, Western Wall of Wisdom erected...

Encampment Day 9: UCI statement, negotiations continue, Western Wall of Wisdom erected by Israeli students

- advertisement -

As of May 7, student protestors within the UCI Gaza Solidarity Encampment maintained their presence in the Physical Sciences Quad for the ninth day in a row. Throughout the day, students created a mural using washable-paint on the floor of the encampment that read, “UC DIVEST FROM GENOCIDE.”

Earlier in the morning, administration released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations with student protesters and their encampment on the UC Irvine Instagram story. The story posts were later taken down and Chancellor Gillman sent a campus wide email in the evening. On the Instagram story posts, it said that the encampment has remained, “peaceful and minimally disruptive of university activities,” and that no criminal laws had been broken by any student protesters. 

“To date, the situation at UC Irvine has presented fewer risks of disruption and fewer concerns about campus safety than has been experienced at other universities,” the statement read.

The statement concluded with an update on divestment and transparency negotiations that began last Monday, where “conversations were productive but did not result in any conclusion.”

An encampment protester, who goes by M, told New University that following the resumption of negotiations yesterday, the administration did not offer a new proposal towards the student protestors’ counter-proposal and instead came “empty-handed.”

“[UCI] really want us off this campus but we won’t capitulate on our demands. They initially brought us a draft proposal which did not meet all of our demands. Then you heard from them on the second day we [Students for Justice in Palestine UCI] brought them another proposal,” M said. “It was just a more detailed version outlining the specifics of our demands. It did not contradict the original demands in any way, and did not add anything new.”

The campus wide email Gillman sent was also regarding negotiations with the encampment protesters. He stated that while administration did meet with SJP UCI on Monday they, “were not willing to meet with us today.”

“Every person who cares about the well-being of humanity should have their attention drawn to this situation and advocate for whatever course of action they believe would best help end this tragedy. But having raised the saliency of this issue, it is very important for the well-being of the campus for all those in the encampment to return to legitimate forms of protest and advocacy.”

Gillman then described counter-protesters having peaceful demonstrations and alternative academic programming that “contribute to the expression of diverse viewpoints and the maintenance of order on campus,” after expressing concerns over encampment protesters disrupting teachings and reports of vandalism. 

Later in the afternoon, members of the community holding Israeli flags and pro-Israeli signs were spotted standing outside of the encampment while a pro-Palestine rally was being held. Many of them were participants of the Holocaust Remembrance Day walk that was organized May 6. 

While police officers were not dressed in full riot gear, they were seen holding riot helmets during the rally. 

Photo by Laiyla Santillan / Staff

In front of the Science Library, Hillel at UCI created a structure called the “Western Wall of Wisdom,” which is named after the Western Wall in Israel where notes of prayers and wishes can be found within its cracks. 

Shir Diner, an Israeli UCI student, told New University that the wall contains information and infographics about the war in Gaza. Members of Hillel stood outside the structure to speak with students and community curious about the wall. 

“We’ve had some conversations with people, both from the encampment and from here. We’ve had conversations with students who are not related to the issue, personally, and genuinely just want to learn,” Diner said. “At the end of the day, we believe that university should be a space for educational conversations.”

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

Yesterday in La Jolla, police officers adorned in riot gear raided the pro-Palestinian encampment at UC San Diego. Among 40 of the 64 people arrested were student protesters. 

UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla released a statement stating “We began communicating with participants within minutes of the camp’s establishment. Nevertheless, the encampment has tripled in size in violation of the group’s commitment not to expand the footprint. This encampment poses an unacceptable safety and security hazard on campus.”

“It’s really horrifying and terrifying,” M said regarding the situation at UCSD. “What the UC system is willing to deploy these militarized police forces and brutalize students who are protesting a genocide, it’s a really ugly thing for a university institution to do”

Outside of the encampment, a community member, who requested anonymity, created a “Little Gaza Charging Station” with a battery, vegan snacks and a video monitor playing a seven-minute video of encouraging messages from Palestine and a sign that reads “CALL YOUR REPS.” The station’s name is derived from U.S. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton’s referral to nation-wide student encampments as “Little Gazas” and was created to support those within the encampment. 

Photo by Skylar Paxton / Staff

“The protests on college campuses have given me just so much… they’ve really buoyed my spirits. This genocide has been going on for too long, and these people must feel so unseen,” they said. “It really buoys me at a moment when things were looking even more grim for the people of Gaza, for the people of Palestine.”

Skylar Paxton is an Opinion Apprentice for the Spring 2024 Quarter. She can be reached at paxtons@uci.edu