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Sydney University orders end to pro-Palestine camps

Harrison Brennan, student and organiser, stands amongst a pro-Palestine encampment on the lawns of the University Of Sydney.

Harrison Brennan, student and organiser, stands amongst a pro-Palestine encampment on the lawns of the University Of Sydney. Photo: Getty

The University of Sydney has ordered students protesting Israel’s war in Gaza to leave a controversial encampment which has been on the campus since April.

A university spokesperson said on Friday it had told the encampment’s leadership “we require them to vacate the encampment to allow other students to use the space”.

“For some weeks we have tried to negotiate with encampment representatives to come to a peaceful resolution,” the spokesperson said.

“The front lawns are a shared space and as we have said previously, our shared spaces should be welcoming and inclusive to all members of our community.

“Since 24 April, the encampment has taken over this shared space to the exclusion of others.”

The order comes after mounting tensions between students at the pro-Palestine camp and university management.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott in May apologised to students and staff who felt unsafe around the encampment but stopped short of ordering them to disband.

The university said it had “repeatedly stated since the encampment began that we support the right to peaceful protest, provided it does not cause significant disruption to core university operations”.

“We consider preparations for semester two to be core university operations and any activity that impedes our ability to prepare for them in the usual fashion constitutes a significant and unacceptable disruption,” they said.

University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council president Harrison Brennan said there were no plans to disband, but that the group of around 40 students was now on “high alert” for security to move in.

“It’s a sham,” Mr Brennan said, of university management’s claims.

“They’re finding any bureaucratic excuse to kick us off.”

Several Australian universities have recently ramped up action against pro-Palestine protesters who refuse to disband encampments with Melbourne’s La Trobe University starting misconduct proceedings against students.

Meanwhile, camps at the University of Melbourne and Western Australia’s Curtin University disbanded last month after concessions from management.

The encampments sprang up after protests demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and divestment from companies linked to Israel swept US campuses, prompting police action in some cases.

–AAP

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