Campus News

SU issues ultimatum for protest camp to relocate ahead of commencement

SU issues ultimatum for protest camp to relocate

Gaza Solidarity Encampment supporters face disciplinary action if quad isn’t cleared.

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Surya Vaidy
The Gaza Solidarity Encampment at the Shaw Quad remains open Wednesday as large white tents have been erected for Syracuse’s Commencement weekend.

Amid preparations for Commencement Weekend, Syracuse University officials asked the Gaza Solidarity Encampment to relocate away from the Shaw Quad, threatening students with disciplinary action if they didn’t.

On Wednesday morning, SU’s Student Experience Office presented protestors with a notice offering them two alternate locations – the lawn near the Life and Sciences Building on College Place or the Women’s Building Field on Euclid Avenue.

With SU’s Commencement Weekend only two days away, the university already has been setting up tents for post-graduation gatherings near the JMA Wireless Dome.

“We hope you will relocate as directed,” the office said. “The university has permitted you to engage in protest for the past week with an opportunity to bring awareness to your positions. However, seeking to remain on the quad beyond this point will constitute a disruption of university activities in violation of university policy.”

Alternative Text
Surya Vaidy
Pro-Palestinian activists discuss Wednesday the letter from Syracuse University’s Student Experience Office ordering the Gaza Solidarity Encampment to relocate.

Failure to comply with the university’s requests will result in charges under the Student Conduct Code, the statement said. Protestors said on Instagram they were given 30 minutes to respond to the request.

Shortly after the notice, the official Instagram account for SU’s Students for Justice in Palestine posted a response that blames the administration for not meeting to discuss their demands since the camp started on April 29.

“Admin is only agreeing to meet AFTER graduation instead of before, as we have expressed like to,” the SU_SJP Instagram post stated. “We want nothing more from the admin than to come to the table and for them to engage for our demands. The impact on graduation is due to admin’s refusal to meet, not ours.”

Security measures have increased since the weekend with more DPS officers noticeably present in campus buildings bordering the quad, including the Physics Building and Huntington Beard Crouse Hall.

Camp draws community rally, parent arrest

On Saturday, about 50 pro-Palestine gathered in Walnut Park for the “Community Support Rally” in support of the SU Gaza Solidarity Encampment.

The majority of those present at the rally were not SU students. The pro-Palestinian supporters marched from Walnut Park to the Shaw Quad where protesters have peacefully occupied the lawn in front of Hendricks Chapel since Monday, April 29.

According to a campus-wide email from Chief Student Experience Office Allen Groves and DPS Chief Craig Stone, “a brief altercation ensued” when an individual not affiliated with the university punched a student after gesturing a Nazi salute towards students. A Syracuse Police investigation is ongoing.  

The following afternoon, three parents of SU students approached the quad encampment and shouted at protesters in the encampment, which remained peaceful during the incident. 

DPS responded to the situation, urging the parent to “de-escalate and depart campus.” DPS officers arrested the parent after they declined to comply. The Daily Orange confirmed the parent’s identity as Ronn Torossian, president of the Syracuse Jewish Parents Council. 

A video from the encampment showed displaced signs and food items from the group’s resource tent that Torossian allegedly threw on the ground. The student does not want to press charges at this time, Groves and Stone said in a campus-wide email addressing the verbal altercation.

“To ensure the safety of our community, there will be an increased law enforcement presence on and around campus in the coming days,” Groves and Stone wrote.

SU’s Students for Justice in Palestine said the “careless communication” from the university fueled the altercations in a social media post, referencing the campus-wide email Groves sent on Saturday.

“The hasty public statement displays the administration’s careless use of power as they continue to put out inflammatory statements on incidents that are still under investigation,” SPJ wrote in an Instagram post. “We call on the university to prevent Groves and his collaborators from contributing to act in a reckless way, fueling tensions by issuing statements misinforming Syracuse University.”

The statement accused university communications of “promoting selective protection of specific groups of students and endangering others.”

The student organization also referenced an email from SU provost Gretchen Ritter and chief student experience officer Allen Groves in response to the “Shut It Down For Palestine” march on campus on Nov. 9, reiterated their sixth demand from the university in “addressing DPS racism.”

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“My students are starting to feel the effects of burnout dealing with the constancy of aggression from counter protestors and resistant administrators,” political science professor Jenn M. Jackson wrote on X, formerly Twitter. 

The tensions over the weekend came after End Antisemitism Now sent a letter signed by over 650 students, parents, alumni and community members urging university leadership to “restore safety” to the SU campus. The letter, addressed to Chancellor Kent Syverud, outlined four requests of the university:

  • Remove all non-university affiliated protesters from the encampment and perform regular ID checks to maintain campus security
  • Station DPS personnel on the quad to protect students from harassment and ensure that unauthorized individuals do not access university facilities
  • Remove signage advocating for the destruction of the State of Israel, including those stating “from the river to the sea”
  • Begin a review of sanctions against Aziza Zahran due to previous comments and recent leadership of protests, in accordance with the university guidelines

“It is not enough that Syracuse University kindly requested illegal pro-murder, pro-rape protests be moved from one side of the campus to another,” Ronn Torossian said in a statement to The NewsHouse on Wednesday. “They should have been removed immediately and not appeased.” 

Torossian said the Syracuse Jewish Parents Council is “the umbrella parents and students’ organization representing 450 Zionist families involved with Syracuse University.” Torossian also claimed that the Chancellor and Chief of Police have refused to meet with the organization, calling their actions “an Anti-Semitic double standard.”

The encampment remains steadfast in its six demands from the university administration. SU SPJ posted an email template form on Monday, requesting student’s “email university administration and urge them to provide amnesty for student protestors.” The goal is to send 4,000 letters. 

On Tuesday, SU SPJ posted on social media that pro-Palestinian supporters sent 2,400 letters of support for the encampment in 24 hours, requesting the university provide student-protestors full amnesty. 

“Thank you all for what you are doing. What an inspiring and brave generation you all are,” one university alum commented.