DETROIT, Mich. (Michigan News Source) — Wayne State University officials implemented remote operations on May 28 due to safety concerns over a pro-Palestinian encampment that has sparked controversy and calls for negotiation. Established on May 23, the encampment has drawn attention from U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), university leadership, and student demonstrators, escalating tensions on campus.

University spokesman Matt Lockwood indicated that talks could not proceed until the encampment is dismantled.

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The remote learning shift is “directly related to the encampment,” Lockwood said on May 28. Despite repeated requests for the encampment’s removal, students have declined to comply. 

In a statement on May 27, President Kimberly Andrews Espy said that the encampment had cleared walkways leading to State Hall to ensure building access. She added that Vice President for Government and Community Affairs Patrick Lindsey visited the encampment, reiterating that the students were trespassing and asking for its immediate dismantling.

A meeting was offered for May 27 if the encampment was removed by the end of the day, but the offer was declined.

Wayne State announced on social media platform X that remote operations would remain in effect on its Detroit campus until further notice. According to The Detroit News, Lockwood did not provide an immediate response when asked if police would clear the encampment.

The encampment was established by a pro-Palestinian group just two days after a similar encampment at the University of Michigan was dismantled due to safety concerns. The UM encampment, which had been in place since late April, ended with the use of pepper spray and force by police, resulting in four arrests. 

Miriam Starkman, executive director of Hillel of Metro Detroit, shared her concerns with The Detroit News about the safety of Jewish students on campus amid the ongoing protests.

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“We hope the Wayne State administration enforces its policies, so that all students can have a safe environment to pursue their education,” Starkman said in an email. “Further, we hope the administration makes clear its condemnation of antisemitic rhetoric.”

Organizers of the pro-Palestinian encampment at Wayne State have stated their intention to remain on campus until their demands are met. These demands include the university’s divestment from Israel and companies that supply military equipment to Israel. The students have maintained their stance, opting for an open bargaining session on May 29 to discuss divestment rather than private meetings.