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UW President: Campus tents ‘will ultimately be gone’

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(The Center Square) – The head of the University of Wisconsin says there will be an end to part of the protests on campuses across the state, but he’s not saying how or when.

UW President Jay Rothman was a guest on UpFront over the weekend. He said the tent communities that have popped-up on the campuses in Madison and Milwaukee “will ultimately be gone.”

“I’m not going to speculate as to when that will occur and how those resolutions will come to pass, but, you know, the encampments are illegal, and ultimately, they will be gone,” Rothman said. “From my perspective, we want the encampments to be removed. I mean, they are illegal, and they should come down. It’s as simple as that. And to the extent those conversations can lead to that result, that would be a good thing.”

Monday marks a week since the pro-Palestinian protests began.

The UW has reminded protesters since the first day that camping on campus is illegal.

UW-Madison’s chancellor last week called in the police to clear tents at the Library Mall. More than 30 protesters were arrested, and a handful of police officers were injured during a scuffle with protesters.

“The police arrived. They were authorized by the chancellor. I supported her in that decision. The protesters were given warning that they needed to leave, and a number of them did. When they didn’t leave, the police moved in methodically, with very little force at the end of the day, to remove the encampments. But to the extent that there was clashes, it was instigated by the protesters,” Rothman said.

UW leaders in Madison and Milwaukee say they continue to negotiate with protest leaders. UW-Madison’s chancellor has reportedly promised not to call-in the police while those negotiations are on-going.

But Rothman said some of the things that protest leaders want, like a police-free UW-Madison campus, is a non-starter.

“That’s just ludicrous,” Rothman said. “The university police do a terrific job in ensuring the safety of our students that are absolutely essential. I mean, so I think that one is absolutely a nonstarter. I think the issue about the divestment issue, generally, is a red herring. I mean, the issues that they are protesting are ones of foreign policy, not of university investment. So, I just view that as a red herring. But we’ll see where the discussions lead, ultimately. But I just think both of those issues don’t make a lot of sense to me.”

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