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UW professor warns of ‘long-lived’ damage from deal with protestors

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(The Center Square) – Three weeks after setting up an encampment on the University of Washington campus, pro-Palestinian students and activists are expected to clear out Monday and clean up the mess left behind.

But the agreement to leave came only after UW’s president agreed to a list of demands from the group, and the concessions are not going over well with some, including a Jewish faculty member and a state lawmaker.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce released a three-page agreement with leaders of the Popular University for Gaza encampment that details what the UW will do in exchange for the protesters leaving campus.

Per the agreement, UW will open a Center for Scholarship of Palestine, convene a military industrial and labor task force and have representation on a divestment committee.

UW leadership has also agreed to waive tuition for 20 displaced students from Gaza and review study-abroad programs that exclude Palestinian or other Arab students.

“We welcome applications from displaced Gazan students and will develop financial support strategies, including waiving tuition for at least 20 Gazan students to complete their studies,” the applicable section of the agreement reads. “The University will add new language to the Office of Admissions website specific to welcoming applications and working with students displaced from universities in Gaza.”

Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at UW, is Jewish.

He characterized the agreement as an ethical and legal failure on the part of the university.

“The damage is going to be long-lived and significant, and you shouldn’t underestimate the damage that has been done here,” Mass told The Center Square. “They spray painted in red on the George Washington statue a call to kill Jews; it was outrageous.”

Mass says UW “caved” to the protesters demands.

“Cauce took sides; she took a political position in calling for a ceasefire and then she talks about Islamophobia, which there is no hint of, and she doesn’t even mention antisemitism which was everywhere,” he said, adding that the issue extends beyond Jewish students. “I’ve talked to many parents who’ve said they will never allow their children to come here now, and I’ve spoken to major contributors who say they will never now contribute to the University of Washington.”

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, said he was saddened by UW’s response to the protest.

“I’m disappointed that they have basically said they’re not going to support the enforcement of any of the rules that were violated over the last three weeks,” he told The Center Square. “That can’t stand. I 100% support free speech, but we have to draw the line if rules are broken, and rules were absolutely broken here.”

Braun said the most frustrating thing from his point of view is the fact the agreement includes no recognition of the harm done to Jewish students and faculty.

“This entire agreement is to let the protesters say, ‘We will move off campus if you do all these things for us.’ Nothing in here addresses what we’re going to do to undo the harm to our Jewish students and community over the last few weeks,” he said. “That harassment, that intimidation and fear that goes with that, nothing is being done to address that in this agreement.”

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