UCLA Student Pro-Palestine Protesters Demand ‘Material Action’ From Universities: ‘Enough Is Enough’

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Protests spread from USC to the UCLA campus where hundreds set up tent encampments

On a sunny Thursday in the middle of University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Westwood campus, where students gather to lunch, study or socialize, about 300 are camped out in protest of the violence taking place in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. From signs calling out UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block to dozens shouting “Palestine will be free,” students told TheWrap they will continue demonstrate until UCLA takes a stand.

“We’re saying enough is enough. We’re tired of our tuition money, our wages — in some cases — going to commit this genocide,” Vincent Doehr, a Ph.D. student in political science and a designated spokesman for the encampment told TheWrap.

He added: “I think what we see here today is a crowd of hundreds of UCLA community members. It includes students, it includes alumni, it includes faculty, it includes employees who are united from having seen six months of Israeli genocide against Palestinians as well as 75-plus years of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

The intense emotion was everywhere on the UCLA campus, a day after 93 students were arrested downtown at the University of Southern California after students and activists camped out on the central campus, also demanding divestment.

The tent encampment at UCLA was new, and the latest extension of nationwide protests at elite universities on behalf of Palestinians — including Columbia, Harvard, New York University, Yale, Berkeley and others — where students are demanding that their institutions get involved in the matter and, in many cases, divest from any Israeli companies in their portfolios.

Since 3 a.m, Doehr and his fellow pro-Palestine student protesters have been stationed between UCLA’s Powell Library and Royce Hall, orchestrating a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” in response to the more than 30,000 deaths in the Gaza Strip following the Hamas’ October 7, 2023 attack.

USC cancelled its main commencement ceremony on Thursday, a day after 93 people were arrested following encampment protests. When the TheWrap visited the campus on Thursday, the yard was clear, calm and silent without any chatter other than security and law enforcements checking students’ identification at entry.

As of Thursday, students at Emory University, Northwestern University, Cornell University and more have joined the list of schools with student-based protests.

“It’s really important that it’s happening on university campuses because this is a place of discussion,” Marie Salem, a doctoral student in UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and a spokesperson for the protestors, told TheWrap. “This is a place where we talk about it in the classroom, and we really want to see it happening outside the classroom and that’s really our main ask today. If you’re going to talk about it, talk about social justice, we really want to see an action and part of that is divesting from corporations and companies that are complicit with the Israeli genocide that’s happening, or even in direct collaboration with it, such as the weapon industry.”

UCLA students explained there are several demands, but two are the most pertinent, Doehr shared: a divestment of all University of California and UCLA Foundation funding that’s connected to Israel, a call from UCLA to urge for a permanent ceasefire, a boycott by UCLA against Israeli universities as well as a suspension of study-abroad programs.

Several students approached by TheWrap declined to be interviewed and directed a reporter to Doehr and Salem.

“I’ve been a student here for three years and the entire time has been a back and forth with the administration over divesting the university’s endowment from corporations that profit off the killing of Palestinians,” Doehr said, adding that protests can end if the university meets that demand. “We’re here today, and our faculty are here today to keep that pressure up until the university does that.”

George Dutton, who is a professor in the Department of Asian Language and Culture, stood alongside students with the purpose of supporting pro-Palestine student protesters’ freedom of speech.

“I think this is a very important part of being a human being and being able to stand up and speak out on issues they feel strongly about,” Dutton said, who came to the protest after teaching his class earlier that morning.

He added that he is there just to support and is not involved in the pro-Palestine protest itself. “I think it’s important to have faculty members and staff members out there surveying as witnesses to observe what is going on and their right to freedom of speech… I’m really here to to try to encourage the UCLA administration to recognize freedom of speech.”

In a statement to TheWrap, regarding the on-campus protests, UCLA said the safety and the wellbeing of students and members are its top priorities.

“Our top priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our entire Bruin community. We’re actively monitoring this situation to support a peaceful campus environment that respects our community’s right to free expression while minimizing disruption to our teaching and learning mission,” Mary Osako, vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications, said.

The encampment protesters at UCLA Thursday share their demands (Credit: Raquel “Rocky” Harris for TheWrap)
UCLA faculty and staff stand with students at Thursday’s encampment protest (Credit: Raquel “Rocky” Harris for TheWrap)
UCLA chancellor Gene D. Block is portrayed with blood on his hands (Credit: Raquel “Rocky” Harris for TheWrap)
A sign at Thursday’s encampment protest at UCLA (Credit: Raquel “Rocky” Harris for TheWrap)


3 responses to “UCLA Student Pro-Palestine Protesters Demand ‘Material Action’ From Universities: ‘Enough Is Enough’”

  1. Martine Avatar

    weird, I searched the whole article and cannot find a reference to “hostages”.
    So let me add these demands to the table:
    1. the students denounce Hamas and its practice of raping people and kidnapping babies.
    2. the students demand the immediate release of all hostages.

    Can someone explain to Professor Dutton the difference between free speech and hate speech.
    These students are making Jewish students and professors fear for their lives.

  2. Isaac Toveg Avatar
    Isaac Toveg

    Once these animals release all of the hostages then the war may be over. Israel won. Lately if this is genocide all of Hamas would be dead in 2 days. These animals cannot be trusted and they are nothing but rapists, murderers who getting their asses kicked in. Hamas unilaterally started this war, So Israel gave them an ultimatum to release the hostages. So you protestors Go to hell!!

  3. Monica Simpson Avatar
    Monica Simpson

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