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Why UM students have joined national pro-Palestine encampment efforts

Over twenty tents crowded the University of Michigan's Diag, accompanied by signs urging the university to divest assets from Israeli companies and military contractors. Students emerging from their tents were met with breakfast donated to their efforts.

Throughout this week, over 100 UM students have participated in a national encampment effort protesting the war in Gaza.

Individuals participating in the encampment did not give their names due to potential academic ramifications and doxing concerns. However, an undergraduate student at the protest says they’ve seen sustaining support from the student body.

“There’s never been more engagement from the community and in the encampment as every day goes on we get more and more people coming in, joining in activities, then joining in the camp itself. In regards to the more short term, what the camp will look like… that depends day by day.”

The pro-Palestine movement has especially gained traction on campus over the last two semesters the student said. It’s unclear what the encampment will look like as graduation weekend approaches. It's against university policy to disrupt school-sanctioned events.

But protesters say they'll continue the encampment until the university cuts all investments related to Israel and war efforts.

“The goal of the encampment is to stay until divestment and every single camper is committed to staying until the university fully divests its $6 billion of its endowment from Israel, from war, and from imperialist ventures.”

In a statement shared with WEMU, the University of Michigan says that since encampment efforts began on Monday, they've increased security on campus and are monitoring the situation. The University says it is prepared to respond to harassment and threats issues by protesters or counter-protesters.

The University of Michigan's investment policy prevents endowment from yielding to political pressures. In March, the UM Regents rejected requests to divest from companies linked to Israel.

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Taylor Bowie joined WEMU as a reporter in October 2023.
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