tents at Deakin University
Pro-Palestinian encampment organisers have organised a rally in response to the eviction notice. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • students

Pro-Palestine university encampment ordered to disband


May 14, 2024

Pro-Palestine protesters are refusing to leave an encampment despite university officials ordering them to move on.

Deakin University deputy vice-chancellor Kerrie Parker ordered the “immediate dismantling and removal of the current encampment” at its Burwood campus in an email to organisers on Monday.

Ms Parker said students initially agreed for the encampment to run from May 7 until Friday and the protest was disrupting the function of the campus.

In an updated statement on Tuesday, she warned the university would not tolerate “unacceptable language or behaviour that breaches our code of conduct”.

Tents at the Pro Palestine encampment at the Deakin University
 Deakin University says the camps pose hygiene and safety risks. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

But camp organisers are vowing to resist and have flagged a rally in response to the eviction for Wednesday evening.

Deakin Students for Palestine’s Jasmine Duff said security told the camp on Tuesday afternoon they were cutting its power access. 

“The university has now had (security) shut down all of our power and access to electricity so we’re going to buy generators,” she told AAP.

“I think Deakin is very embarrassed about their ties to weapons manufacturers and they don’t want us telling other students about this.

“If they were to look at America’s (student protests) they would learn that when encampments are repressed, they only grow.”

A Deakin spokesman said protesters still had access to amenities, including water and electricity.

In a social media post, the group reiterated its demand for the vice-chancellor to meet with them and divest its ties with Israel and weapons manufacturers.

By Tuesday afternoon, fewer than 30 students and a dozen tents were left.

A Pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Melbourne.
 Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has urged calm on university campuses amid protests over Gaza. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Premier Jacinta Allan called for calm.

“That protest must be peaceful, it must be respectful and it also shouldn’t be compromising the safety of students who are going to university to further their education,” she told reporters.

The Senate on Tuesday voted down a Greens motion to commend student encampments across Australia.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi detailed repression and violence from police and universities against students protesting in the US and said Deakin was following that path.

Liberal Sarah Henderson and Labor’s Anthony Chisholm spoke in opposition, accusing the Greens of seeking to divide the community.

It comes after 1000 people attended an event at Monash University’s Clayton campus on Monday night for Yom HaZikaron, which commemorates Israeli victims of terror.

About 100 pro-Palestine supporters also showed at the event.

Police attended and six people were asked to leave the campus but but no arrests were made.

On Tuesday afternoon at Monash, Israel supporters and the Palestine encampment chanted at each other.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said protesters reciting the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” at the Yom HaZikaron event was provocative.

“It’s beyond me why people would think that it advances their cause to engage in this sort of behaviour,” he told 3AW.

Pro Palestine demonstrators are seen linking arms
 Israel and Palestine supporters chanted at one other at Monash University on Tuesday. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

Monash University Students for Palestine said the campus’ head of security warned them they could be punished for chants including “from the river to the sea”. 

A university spokesman said any language which “goes beyond lawful freedom of speech” could result in academic penalties.

In Canberra, Australian National University’s deputy vice-chancellor Professor Grady Venville warned student protesters of more interventions and they could be in breach of the student code of conduct.

A University of Melbourne spokeswoman said its encampment was disrupted on Sunday night by counter protesters wearing masks and hoodies.

The small group entered its Parkville campus and “aggressively harassed” a group on the University’s South Lawn, she said.

PRO-PALESTINE ENCAMPMENTS AT AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES:

* NSW: University of Sydney, University of Wollongong

* VIC: University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Monash University, RMIT University, Latrobe University

* SA: University of Adelaide

* QLD: University of Queensland

* WA: Curtin University

* TAS: University of Tasmania

* ACT: Australian National University.