Students pack up after university disclosure commitment

Protesters are removing their Pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Melbourne.

Protesters are removing their Pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Melbourne. Photo: AAP

Protesters at two Australian universities are packing up their pro-Palestine encampments, citing a shift by the institutions on demands to publicly disclose ties with weapons makers.

Students at the University of Melbourne issued a call on Friday to supporters to help clean up the camp and collect any donated items from the South Lawn and Arts West building, which they have occupied since May 15.

“UniMelb has committed to disclosure, one win in our big fight to divestment,” the organisers said on social media.

Student protesters announced on Wednesday the two camps would be dismantled when the university agreed to publicly disclose its partnerships with weapons manufacturers.

While the University of Melbourne has yet to disclose ties with specific companies, it updated the research transparency section on its website.

The university said it was committed to “additional disclosure of its research grant arrangements” relating to research projects and funding.

“Disclosure is subject to confidentiality obligations, national security regulations and laws, and the safety and security of our researchers undertaking their academic work,” the website said.

It confirmed further updates about research ties would be announced on the university’s website progressively, starting in June.

Vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell previously said the occupation had led to the cancellation or rescheduling of more than 600 classes, disrupting more than 16,800 students.

Students and staff contravening an order to vacate the building were threatened with academic sanctions including expulsion.

Demonstrators at Curtin University in Western Australia claimed victory and disbanded their encampment on Thursday after signing an agreement with the vice-chancellor.

“The Curtin Student Guild has achieved a crucial step with the university’s commitment to disclose ties with weapons manufacturers,” the student organisers said.

Protesters had camped on university grounds for 23 days before the university agreed to their demands on Tuesday.

“Disclosure has been achieved as a direct result of the commitment of the encampment and the Curtin community to fight for the people in Gaza,” the guild said.

The Perth university confirmed the agreement with students, ending the campus occupation.

“Curtin does not invest directly or indirectly in entities relating to the manufacture of weapons of war and has committed to publish an annual list of all sectors of university investment,” it said in a statement.

Pro-Palestine encampments have sprung up at university campuses across the nation after similar actions in the United States.

Camps at Monash, Deakin and La Trobe universities in Melbourne were also dismantled in recent days.

RMIT protesters are continuing their encampment after rallying on Thursday, calling on the vice-chancellor to meet with them and disclose and divest from weapons manufacturers.

That university said it supported students’ right to exercise their freedom of speech and that it did not design, develop or manufacture weapons in the university or as part of any partnership.


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