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UW-Madison leaders demand protest tents be taken down

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(The Center Square) – No one is sure if there is an ‘or else’ attached to the statement from UW-Madison leaders to pro-Palestinian protesters who are camping on campus.

Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin issued a statement that says the university is willing to speak with protesters about their demands. But Mnookin said protesters must first dismantle their tents.

“Several tents were erected throughout the day in clear violation of Chapter 18 of the UW System Administrative Code. This provision of state law was enacted by the legislature and includes limits on the types of activities permitted on campus,” Mnooking said in a statement. “Once compliance with campus policy and state law has been achieved and tents have been removed from campus property, we, as campus leaders stand ready to meet with campus-based organizers to discuss their demands.”

Mnookin is not saying what will happen if the tents are not taken down.

University officials last week warned protesters about “consequences, both within our code of student conduct and more broadly under Wisconsin law” for anyone who breaks the law while protesting.

The first day of protests at UW-Madison saw tents, canopies and a crowd of students, but there were no reports of fights, arrests or injuries.

The group, Students for Justice in Palestine, is responsible for the Madison protest. Organizers say they want the University of Wisconsin to divest from Israel, and they want an end to the war in Gaza.

Mnookin said she and other UW-Madison leaders remain willing to talk with protesters about their goals, but again, Mnookin said only after protesters remove their tents.

“We continue to ask the protesters to voluntarily comply with state law against tents and encampments on university property. We hope that protestors will elect to avail themselves of the many alternative ways to protest and to express their views without tents or encampments on our campus grounds,” Mnookin added in her statement.

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