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University of Melbourne cancels classes as pro-Palestine activists defy orders to disband encampments University of Melbourne cancels classes as pro-Palestine activists defy orders to disband encampments
(32 minutes later)
Monash students say they’ve been threatened with suspension while protests continue around Australia Monash students say they have been threatened with suspension while protests continue around Australia
Classes have been cancelled for thousands of University of Melbourne students while protesters at Deakin University defied orders to disband their pro-Palestine encampments as they vowed they would “not be moved” until their demands were met.Classes have been cancelled for thousands of University of Melbourne students while protesters at Deakin University defied orders to disband their pro-Palestine encampments as they vowed they would “not be moved” until their demands were met.
On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters flooded the University of Melbourne’s Arts West building and unofficially renamed it “Mahmoud’s Hall” after a Palestinian who was killed with his family in Gaza before he could start his studies in Australia.On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters flooded the University of Melbourne’s Arts West building and unofficially renamed it “Mahmoud’s Hall” after a Palestinian who was killed with his family in Gaza before he could start his studies in Australia.
Setting up tents and banners and dragging furniture to block the entrance, the protesters said they would occupy the building until the university accepted their demands to divest from weapons manufacturers and disclose their ties to Israel.Setting up tents and banners and dragging furniture to block the entrance, the protesters said they would occupy the building until the university accepted their demands to divest from weapons manufacturers and disclose their ties to Israel.
About 100 students camped in the building overnight, ignoring the university’s request for them to leave by Wednesday afternoon. About 100 students camped in the building overnight, ignoring the university’s request for them to leave by Wednesday afternoon. The university’s management has cancelled all classes in the building.
The university’s management has cancelled all classes in the building. Victoria police have not been requested to intervene, despite warnings from the university’s acting provost, Prof Pip Nicholson, that there would be “serious consequences” if protesters remained on site. Victoria police have not been requested to intervene, despite warnings from the university’s acting provost, Prof Pip Nicholson, that there would be “serious consequences” if protesters remained on site.
A separate rally and teach-in went ahead at Deakin University on Wednesday evening, after protesters rejected a request to disband their pro-Palestine encampments. Students played music and sang “we will not be moved” as campus security and police monitored the scene.A separate rally and teach-in went ahead at Deakin University on Wednesday evening, after protesters rejected a request to disband their pro-Palestine encampments. Students played music and sang “we will not be moved” as campus security and police monitored the scene.
The University of Melbourne has confirmed there will be no access to the Arts West building on Thursday. Guardian Australia understands 6,500 students have been affected.The University of Melbourne has confirmed there will be no access to the Arts West building on Thursday. Guardian Australia understands 6,500 students have been affected.
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In a statement, a spokesperson said alternative arrangements would be communicated to students due to “disruption and safety issues caused by protest activity within that building”.In a statement, a spokesperson said alternative arrangements would be communicated to students due to “disruption and safety issues caused by protest activity within that building”.
“The university is working with university security to ensure the safety and security of all students and staff,” they said.“The university is working with university security to ensure the safety and security of all students and staff,” they said.
“If you have concerns for your safety, please raise these with your supervisor in the first instance. We regret the inconvenience the protest is causing our university community.”“If you have concerns for your safety, please raise these with your supervisor in the first instance. We regret the inconvenience the protest is causing our university community.”
At about 1.30pm on Wednesday, Nicholson visited the protesters, warning they were violating the university’s rules and police would be in attendance within the hour if they did not leave.At about 1.30pm on Wednesday, Nicholson visited the protesters, warning they were violating the university’s rules and police would be in attendance within the hour if they did not leave.
She said in the event students had not left, “the university will make decisions that will regrettably and unavoidably escalate the tension”.She said in the event students had not left, “the university will make decisions that will regrettably and unavoidably escalate the tension”.
“The choices you make this afternoon will have serious consequences,” she said.“The choices you make this afternoon will have serious consequences,” she said.
In a statement on Thursday morning, police said the University of Melbourne was “presently managing the situation” and had not asked officers to intervene or remove the protesters.In a statement on Thursday morning, police said the University of Melbourne was “presently managing the situation” and had not asked officers to intervene or remove the protesters.
“Victoria police is liaising with Melbourne University to provide assistance when and if that is required,” they said.“Victoria police is liaising with Melbourne University to provide assistance when and if that is required,” they said.
It comes as nine students at Monash University allege they have been accused of misconduct and threatened with suspension or expulsion by the university for attempting to protect the camp from counter-protesters.It comes as nine students at Monash University allege they have been accused of misconduct and threatened with suspension or expulsion by the university for attempting to protect the camp from counter-protesters.
Student Josiah Downey said the university had chosen to “persecute students who are peacefully standing against the genocide” while ignoring their demands to disclose and cut any ties they have to Israeli institutions and weapons manufacturers.
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Student Josiah Downey said the university had chosen to “persecute students who are peacefully standing against the genocide” while ignoring their demands to disclose and cut any ties they have to Israeli institutions and weapons manufacturers.
“Monash does not want to openly shut the camp down for fear of the student movement expanding, as has been seen in the United States, so they are trying to shut down the encampment by targeting individuals.”“Monash does not want to openly shut the camp down for fear of the student movement expanding, as has been seen in the United States, so they are trying to shut down the encampment by targeting individuals.”
The university has been approached for comment. A Monash spokesperson said it was “committed to considering all formal reports of student general misconduct related to protest activity”.
“We are reviewing and investigating the complaints in line with our policies and procedures, which has resulted in a number of formal notices of student misconduct being issued,” they said.
On Wednesday, seven students were brought in to a meeting with ANU and advised to vacate their camps by Friday or risk breaching the university’s code of conduct.On Wednesday, seven students were brought in to a meeting with ANU and advised to vacate their camps by Friday or risk breaching the university’s code of conduct.
Meanwhile, University of Melbourne undergraduate student Gemma O’Toole was among those occupying the middle of the Arts West building, ready to link arms and, if necessary, resist police arrest on Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, the University of Melbourne undergraduate student Gemma O’Toole was among those occupying the middle of the Arts West building, ready to link arms and, if necessary, resist police arrest on Wednesday afternoon.
“We don’t want to be at a university that funds research for war,” she told Guardian Australia.“We don’t want to be at a university that funds research for war,” she told Guardian Australia.
“Students have always been on the right side of history … look at protests against South African apartheid, the Vietnam war … as we look back on these movements, people see the students were right but we still get attacked.”“Students have always been on the right side of history … look at protests against South African apartheid, the Vietnam war … as we look back on these movements, people see the students were right but we still get attacked.”
The federal Greens leader, Adam Bandt, has slammed the response of authorities to the protesters.The federal Greens leader, Adam Bandt, has slammed the response of authorities to the protesters.
“Governments, unis and police shouldn’t be cracking down on peaceful protesters,” he posted on X.“Governments, unis and police shouldn’t be cracking down on peaceful protesters,” he posted on X.
“They should listen to their demands. Students are calling for peace and an end to arming a military force that is subject to orders to stop genocide. That’s something everyone should support.”“They should listen to their demands. Students are calling for peace and an end to arming a military force that is subject to orders to stop genocide. That’s something everyone should support.”