Protesters to meet with university staff over camps

Pro-Palestine supporters at the University of Melbourne are in their third day of an indoor protest.

Pro-Palestine supporters at the University of Melbourne are in their third day of an indoor protest. Photo: AAP

Pro-Palestine students at a major Melbourne university will meet with staff for the first time since they seized a building and set up camp inside.

Demonstrators at the University of Melbourne occupied the Arts West building for a third day on Friday, setting up tents and deck chairs and have no plans to move on unless the university meets their demands.

A handful of the student protesters will meet with university representatives on Friday afternoon in an attempt to resolve the ongoing action.

About 150 classes meant to be held in the building were cancelled in the first two days of, impacting about 6000 students in the second-last week of the semester.

Signs were put up on Friday by the protesters indicating classes inside the building had been moved elsewhere by the university.

Protest organisers said the university had not given them formal orders to move on yet, which would open the door to Victoria Police being called.

They said notices were put up by the university on Thursday saying any non-university student or staff involved in the occupation were trespassing.

The university has disabled elevators in the building and student swipe cards allowing 24-hour access, the organisers said.

Victoria Police said officers would only intervene if people were trespassing on private property and a formal report was made.

“At this stage, Victoria Police has not been requested to intervene or remove any protesters,” a spokesman said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urged the protesters to be respectful and not attack others.

“There is no place for some of the disrespectful ways in which some of these activities are happening – whether it be in some university campuses, or indeed, outside my electorate office,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Wesley on Thursday said the protesters had crossed a line and police had advised on how to end the indoor demonstration.

“We support protest when protest is respectful, when protest is non-disruptive and when protest is non-intimidating,” Wesley said.

“These protests, I’m afraid, and this occupation has done all of those things.”

The group is referring to the building as “Mahmoud Hall” in honour of Mahmoud Alnaouq, a Palestinian man killed in the Israel-Gaza war who was meant to study at the university.

They are demanding that the University of Melbourne disclose and divest its links to weapons manufacturing companies.

Demonstrators have established protest camps at five Victorian universities, one in every other state and one in the ACT.

Protesters at the University of Sydney have set up dozens of tents and are considering moving their protest inside.

Demonstrators at Monash University claim nine students have been accused of misconduct and could face suspension or expulsion.

Deakin University in Melbourne has issued directives for students to leave and the Australian National University in Canberra has told several students to leave the camp by the end of Friday.


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