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UW president calls for pro-Palestinian encampment to end as violent rhetoric rises

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(The Center Square) – University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce is calling for a pro-Palestine encampment on campus to be dismantled as vandalism and violent rhetoric increase.

Since the initial encampment was established at the beginning of May, the number of tents has grown to a few dozen, with protesters that are not enrolled at UW joining in.

Demonstrators initially demanded UW divest from Israel, cut ties with Boeing and end repression of pro-Palestinian students, faculty and staff. However, Cauce said that the representatives of the encampment continue to change and escalate their demands.

Recently, encampment representatives demanded the creation of a new department that would have an “anti-Zionist” litmus test for faculty hiring; granting a student group oversight of awarding new, religion-based scholarships; and a blanket amnesty for all violations of the law and student code.

“Many of these demands, especially the most recent, are contrary to academic freedom and/or to state or federal law,” Cauce said in a blog.

Cauce said the school informed the protesters that UW has no direct investments in Boeing or weapons manufacturers, and offered tangible actions to improve campus culture as a solution to calls for more support for Palestinian and other Muslim and Middle Eastern students.

She admitted that despite the encampment’s initial presence, some of the school’s largest events, such as a night market, went uninterrupted. However, she added that violent rhetoric directed at Jewish students and vandalism on school buildings has increased.

“There are many ways for voices to be heard that don’t require tents, violent rhetoric and vandalism, Cauce said. “Change will be through constructive engagement on issues that are important and meaningful to our students and broader campus community.”

The UW president said the school joins in calls for national and international leaders to agree to a ceasefire that includes an end to military operations, the release of the hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7, and a surge of humanitarian aid for Palestinians and all people in Gaza.

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