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UC Davis’ pro-Palestinian encampment ends

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The group of pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of California, Davis which erected an encampment opposing Israel’s tactics in the war in Gaza last month announced the demonstration’s conclusion Wednesday after their demands were not met.

UC Davis students, staff and community members — calling themselves the Davis Popular University for the Liberation of Palestine — pitched about 20 tents in Memorial Quad, the heart of the campus, on May 6.

The encampments’ peaceful end comes as police have been called to dismantle tents around the state. Protester Stanford McConnehey, a May graduate of UC Davis’ Law School, declined to say specifically when the tents will be dismantled. UC Davis’ academic year has concluded, and the campus was quiet Wednesday.

An encampment spokesperson said they recognized some of their stipulations were “beyond the scope of local authority,” but that UC Davis’ administration had agreed, in part, to add courses about Palestine; review UC Davis Foundation’s existing and future investments; and officially acknowledge alleged harassment encountered by Palestinians, Arab and followers of Islam at UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine.

The UC Office of the President and UC Regents, the governing body of the university system, forbid the UC Davis’ administration from signing any agreement, said Beshara Kehdi, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Cultural Studies on Wednesday.

The UC administration didn’t want other schools to follow the example set at UC Davis and agree to other protesters’ demands, he said.

Rachel Zaentz, a UC Office of the President spokeswoman, wrote in a statement that the university has an obligation to protect the rights of students, faculty, staff and visitors. But the university must also guarantee students’ access to classes.

“The Office of the President coordinates with campus Chancellors to support their efforts to preserve a safe and respectful campus environment,” she continued. “UCOP will continue to fully support our campus leaders — who are working under difficult circumstances — with balancing the right of free expression alongside each student’s right to attend their classes.”

The protests coincided with work stoppages at multiple campuses as graduate students walked off the job on May 28.

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