UW Pro-Palestine Encampment Disbands After Weeks of Protests: What Does This Mean for BC?

Dayna Verlinsky // The Watchdog

The Israel-Palestine conflict has garnered attention across the world and sparked numerous protests. Varying opinions on this issue and the U.S. government’s actions regarding it have caused divisiveness across the country. College students in the United States have been particularly vocal about this issue at schools such as New York University, Columbia University, and Seattle’s University of Washington. 

At UW’s Seattle campus, students formed a pro-Palestine encampment protest on the main quad in early May. Protesting students expressed anger over growing Islamophobia at the school, suppression of Palestinian students’ voices, and the school’s connections to Boeing. Boeing, a company founded and headquartered in Seattle, has held a close relationship with UW and made generous contributions to the college. Boeing has also maintained a close relationship with the state of Israel since its foundation and has donated relief funds and held a presence in Israel during the recent conflict. Students of the UW encampment protested UW’s ties to Boeing during the ongoing conflict and called for the college to cut all ties with the company. 

The encampment included over 100 tents and lasted for over two weeks before fully disbanding on May 20 after reaching an agreement with UW officials. The UW administration announced they would address growing Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism at the college, commit to transparency of investments, and fund scholarships for Palestinian students who have been displaced from Gaza during the conflict. Meanwhile, the student protestors agreed to disband the encampment permanently; those involved will not be punished by the college unless they are found to have committed acts of vandalism or harassment. As of now, UW continues to maintain its ties to Boeing and has committed to transparency of investments and support while following its established policy regarding divestment.

As similar protests occur across the country, many BC students may be wondering how this might affect our campus. As of now, no protests have occurred on the BC campus, although a new club called the Students for Justice Club (SFJ) has formed with the goal of advocating for global issues while “promoting justice, equality, and human rights.” In light of the recent protests at UW, the BC President, David May, issued a statement regarding the act of protest at the college. In his statement, May committed to protecting students’ First Amendment rights to free speech and expression while still “maintaining an educational environment focused on student success.” According to May, BC will continue to adhere to the established First Amendment Activities Policy, which allows for protests on campus while prohibiting interference with education and setting guidelines for protestors.