The Worker

Update from the University of Oregon Gaza Solidarity Encampment on May Day 2024

By K. A. Tyusha

UPDATE – May 4th, 2024: Students have been in negotiations with school administrators since at least Day 2 of the encampment, May 1st, 2024. The content of the discussions within those negotiations has not been shared with any media outlets from the administrators or the students at the encampment, likely for strategic reasons in the latter’s case.

On Day 5 (May 3rd) the University publication “The Daily Emerald” reported that the University placed concrete barriers adjacent to the quad with very obscure reasoning given to the encampment students about it being “for their safety.” The students are being swamped in almost an inch of rainfall and efforts have been underway using buckets and other methods to remove the water from the encampment.

The encampment itself now has well over 100 tents and has shifted orientation and moved further southward. Solar powered sidewalk lights have been installed around the walkways and security personell at the camp have now donned walkie-talkies and brightly colored vests, ensuring the safety of both students in the encampment, and folks outside of it.

There’s been minimal UOPD/EPD presence near the encampment and no indication that a sweep is imminent, but the community itself is still on standby. The University has maintained that it has no plans to use police against the encampment at this time but has stated “that can change.”

Community support is continually growing. Eugene-Springfield DSA (ES-DSA), Eugene Housing and Neighborhood Defense (Eugene HAND) and the Radical Organizing and Activism Resource Center (ROAR Center) have all posted statements on Instagram in support of the encampment. A faculty chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (UOFSJP) has formed rapidly and has so far obtained 37 faculty and staff signatures on their letter, which states:

“We want our administration to know that we stand by our students and refuse to allow them to be harassed or intimidated in exercising their rights to freedom of speech and expression to call for an end to their university’s complicity in the genocide in Gaza. We will not stand idly by if students participating in this peaceful demonstration receive discipline notices, arrest or any punishment related to exercising these rights and stand in solidarity with the demands they have made of the University.

The University of Oregon espouses the following values, among others;

● “We value the passions, aspirations, individuality, and success of the students,
faculty, and staff who work and learn here.”

● “We value academic freedom, creative expression, and intellectual discourse.”

● “We value our diversity and seek to foster equity and inclusion in a welcoming,
safe, and respectful community.”

If we are to embody these values, our students will stop receiving veiled threats and the administration will meet with students in good faith immediately to discuss their demands. We call upon university administration to engage in discussion and negotiation with the participating students on their demands rather than escalation through the use of discipline, force or repression.”

Tomorrow the camp will have reached an enormous milestone of lasting a week, and in the middle of a downpour of rain and chaotic politics all around. They’ve captured the attention of every media outlet in the area and are the talk of the town.

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