Pro-Palestine protests: ANU warns camp to leave as University of Melbourne students stage dramatic sit-in

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Tensions are mounting at universities across Australia over pro-Palestine encampments.
Tensions are mounting at universities across Australia over pro-Palestine encampments. Credit: AAP

As a second Australian university has warned protest organisers to dismantle their pro-Palestine encampment as more than 100 students in Victoria took over a key campus building in a dramatic sit-in.

Australian National University management met with a small group of student protesters on Wednesday morning, warning them to vacate the camp by Friday or risk breaching the university’s code of conduct.

A university spokesperson said the meeting was intended to discuss “how ANU students could continue to protest in a manner that ensures the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone at ANU”.

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“As per the University’s code of conduct and student discipline rule, ANU expects participants to follow these reasonable directions,” the spokesperson said.

The University supports students’ right to protest but these activities must be safe and not cause unnecessary harm or damage to our campus or community.”

The order followed a directive by the Deputy Vice Chancellor at Deakin University in Victoria, which cited “safety, security, and amenity of all campus users” as a reason for giving students the boot.

Deakin encampment organisers refused the order and announced a rally to “defend and support” their action.

While ANU protest organisers have yet to formally respond to management’s order, the ACT branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) announced it would attend a snap rally at the Kambri campus.

tents at Deakin University
Deakin University ordered its pro-Palestine camp be disbanded on Tuesday. Credit: James Ross/AAP

Meanwhile, at Victoria’s University of Melbourne, pro-Palestine activists took over a key building on the Parkville campus vowing not to leave of “be silenced” until their demands were met.

According to The Age, more than 100 students took over the Art West building on Wednesday afternoon — with more than 100 outside the building, too — with footage showing them chanting in the foyer that was draped with signs and Palestinian flags.

The students were protesting the university’s enduring research agreement with defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Acting Provost Pip Nicholson asked students to leave the building by 2.30pm, warning: “the university will make decisions that will regrettably and unavoidably escalate the tension”.

The Age reported the University of Melbourne said it was working with security and was willing to call Victoria Police to the scene.

Students reportedly told the paper they were willing to risk arrest. A small number of police officers attended the protest just after 4pm.

Pro-Palestine camps have popped up at universities across every state in Australia after the first at the University of Sydney almost three weeks ago.

They followed the lead of students at campuses in the United States, several of which were met and forcefully disbanded by police in dramatic scenes.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 700 Australian academics and university staff had signed an open letter in support of student protests.

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