DePaul Negotiations With Anti-Israel Protestors Hit ‘Impasse,’ John Hopkins Reaches Agreement

(Chicago Tribune/ Baltimore Sun/TNS/Hamodia) — DePaul University has reached an “impasse” in negotiations with the school’s anti-Israel encampment, administrators said Saturday night, while protestors at John Hopkins University agreed to disband after the school bent to their demand to begin proceedings to “divest” from Israel and its supporters.  

Protestors at DePaul accuse the school of negotiating in “bad faith” as the students continue to violate school policies and run the risk of being forcibly removed, as has been the case for many other universities nationwide in recent weeks when students disrupt classes or erect structures on private school property.

The future of the nearly two-week old encampment remains unclear. A university spokesperson declined to elaborate on what methods might be used to end the encampment given the stalemate, or the timeline for intervention.

DePaul President Robert Manuel and Provost Salma Ghanem said in a statement that while students are peacefully protesting, “responses to the encampment have inadvertently created public safety issues that put our community at risk.” There was a heavy Chicago police presence on campus last Sunday as tensions flared between the encampment and pro-Israeli counter-protesters.

They also said they are “extremely disappointed” negotiations have fallen apart in the past few days.

Manuel released the school’s updated response to the encampment’s demands, which if students had accepted would have required that the encampment disband by noon Sunday. Among other items, DePaul agreed to say the university is “devastated by the destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure,” but not to call the war a “genocide” because the phrase is “a question of international law and fact.” They also agreed to host a meeting between organizers and Board of Trustees leadership.

However, representatives with the “DePaul Divestment Coalition” said they felt ”pressured” to follow school rules and close the encampment immediately and that they had too little notice to properly consider the latest response. They called on the school at a Saturday night news conference to continue negotiations, urging them to disclose their investments and divest from those with ties to Israel or weapons manufacturers.

“Despite this coalition’s dedication to encouraging and facilitating the community built with empathy and compassion, and continuing to come to the table in good faith, this university has met us with constant disrespect, professional ignorance and extraordinary apathy,” said Parveen Mundi, DePaul’s student body president.

For around a week, there was little to no police intervention at Chicago-area campuses, even as schools across the country sent in law enforcement to douse pro-Palestine demonstrations, leading to more than 2,400 arrests nationwide.

That changed last Saturday, however, when Chicago police arrested nearly 70 protesters at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Loop, and university police raided the encampment at the University of Chicago a few days later. In rarer instances, schools including Northwestern University struck agreements with protest leaders to restrict the disruption to campus life and upcoming commencement ceremonies.

President Joe Biden has defended the right to protest but insisted that “order must prevail” at college campuses, as some in Chicago’s Jewish community demanded action at local universities to prevent hate speech.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University and protesters occupying a pro-Palestinian encampment on the Homewood campus have reached an agreement to end the demonstration immediately.

In exchange for the encampment being dismantled and not restarted, Hopkins will conduct a “timely review of protestors’ key question of divestment,” according to the Baltimore university in a Sunday news release.

Hopkins Justice Collective, the group leading protests, said in its own Sunday news release that Hopkins committed to accelerating its Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee process, a preexisting process within the university for divestment, by five months. The Board of Trustees will meet to discuss the PIIAC proposal for divestment in March or June 2025.

Protesters who aren’t affiliated with the university must vacate campus, Hopkins said.

The collective called the multiday negotiations “in no way a total victory” but “a step towards Johns Hopkins’ commitment to divest from the settler colonial state of Israel.”

“Hopkins is deeply committed to free expression, but it has to be done safely and in a manner that respects university rules and norms,” Hopkins President Ron Daniels said in the Sunday release. “It is my fervent hope that at Hopkins, we can together continue our focus on the important work of a university — to engage in dialogue and learning with one another regarding challenging and complex issues such as these.”

During the six hours of negotiations, administrators proposed considering divesting and cutting the 18-month process that it would take.

Protesters continued to occupy the encampment and were presented with a letter to sign the following day by administrators. The letter pledged not to disrupt the university’s upcoming commencement, leave the encampment and not return. In exchange, the university would not discipline student protesters in the encampment.

Baltimore County’s Towson University has also been urged by students to divest from Israel, with the school’s student government association passing a Tuesday resolution urging divestment. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Movement’s goal is to end international support for Israel, with the goal of dismantling the state.

In a Thursday statement, the Maryland Republican Jewish Council said it strongly condemns the resolution.

“The adoption of this BDS resolution will only server to further isolate Jewish students at the university,” reads the release.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!