Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Demonstrators stage pro-Palestinian May Day strike following encampment agreement

Sonya Dymova/The Daily Northwestern
University representatives arrived at The Rock to hand out letters to demonstrators that said they were in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct.

Demonstrators staged a May Day strike Wednesday, calling on students and teachers to abstain from attending class and show solidarity with Palestine and divestment efforts.

Around 9 a.m., about 50 students gathered at The Rock to rally while handing out fliers to oncoming passersby that read “No grades. No class. No finals. Strike for Gaza on May 1.” Others painted The Rock with an image of the Palestinian flag, and the crowd chanted phrases including “From the River to the Sea, we will all be free” and “When Palestine is under attack, when Columbia is under attack, leave your class and don’t go back.” 

The strike comes after an agreement reached on Monday between the Northwestern Divestment Coalition and the University to deescalate the five-day encampment set up by pro-Palestinian demonstrators on Deering Meadow. It also follows the resignation of seven members of the President’s Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate.

Demonstrators held day-long informal programming, from singing and learning Yiddish resistance songs to culminating in a no-tent “sleepover” on Deering Meadow. During the midday gathering, protesters sang a song featuring the lyrics “occupy Northwestern, we shall not be moved.” 

University representatives later arrived on scene and handed out letters notifying demonstrators they were in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct. The letter, from the Office of Community Standards, explained that students failed to comply with the requests or instructions of a University official or emergency personnel and were in violation of the Interim Policy for Student Demonstrations. Some NU Jewish students have described experiencing mixed feelings, including discomfort and safety concerns, during the deescalated demonstration.

University spokesperson Eliza Larson told The Daily in a statement that some faculty members were also notified that holding class at any protests, proposing alternate assignments or canceling classes can be exclusionary or discriminatory. Those actions could justify a grade appeal or a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights, the message added.

The spokesperson also pointed to the interim demonstration policy that reads “on weekdays, demonstrations at The Rock may not occur until after 3 p.m., when most classes in adjacent buildings have concluded.” Demonstrators were at The Rock in the morning, well before 3 p.m.

Participants returned to Deering Meadow on Wednesday evening to listen to political science Prof. Wendy Pearlman deliver a dialogue on Palestinian national mobilization and resistance. 

She remarked that the student organization’s efforts were not coincidental, saying “you’re not just a bunch of atomized individuals that all of a sudden come together.” 

Pearlman commended students’ efforts in organizing the more than 100-hour-long encampment on the Meadow.

“I’m proud and incredibly grateful and in awe of what you guys were able to do,” Pearlman said. “I think it’s great that you guys have a bit of space now to make this movement sustainable. If it ever comes to the point of doing an encampment again, you guys will be in that much of a stronger place.”

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Related Stories:

—  Seven members of Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate step down

—  The Daily Explains: As NU activists accept deal to deescalate encampment, demonstrators at other universities are seeing mixed results

—  Administrators, student demonstrators reach agreement to end encampment on Deering Meadow

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