Disruption as protesters remain at university camps

May 17, 2024 by AAP
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Classes at one of Australia’s biggest universities are set to be cancelled for a third day in a row as pro-Palestine protesters around the nation defy orders to pack up encampments.

Signage for University of Melbourne‘s Arts West building is seen with ‘Mahmoud Hall’ written on the sign outside of the building where Pro-Palestine demonstrators have taken over at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Thursday, May 16, 2024

Students in Sydney are considering a similar occupation to one underway at the University of Melbourne, where demonstrators have pitched tents inside a major building with no imminent plans to leave.

About 150 classes meant to be held in the Arts West building were cancelled during the first two days of the indoor occupation, which impacted about 6000 students during the second-last week of the semester.

The university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Wesley said protesters had crossed a line and police had advised on how to end the indoor demonstration.

“We support protest when protest is respectful, when protest is non-disruptive and when protest is non-intimidating,” Prof Wesley said.

“These protests, I’m afraid, and this occupation has done all of those things.”

Protest organisers have described it as an “indefinite residence” and said they would not leave until the university met their demands.

The group is referring to the building as “Mahmoud Hall” in honour of Mahmoud Alnaouq, a Palestinian man killed in the Israel-Gaza war who was meant to study at the university.

Late on Thursday, they held a rally inside the building, chanting “we are the students, we won’t be silenced”.

Demonstrators have established protest camps at five Victorian universities, one in every other state and one in the ACT.

Protesters at the University of Sydney have set up dozens of tents and are considering moving their protest inside.

“We won’t rule that out but that’s obviously subject to camp discussions,” Student Representative Council president Harrison Brennan told reporters.

Demonstrators at Monash University claim nine students have been accused of misconduct and could face suspension or expulsion.

Deakin University in Melbourne has issued to directives for students to leave and the Australian National University in Canberra told students to disband their camp by the end of Friday.

Victoria Police says it’s up to universities to request police action if necessary.


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