Run Down on the Pro-Palestine Encampment: Exclusive Interviews, Student Opinions, and Security Reactions

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On Thursday 9th of May, a group of organised students set up an encampment in Alexandra Square in support of Palestine. I had the honour to interview some of the students partaking in the encampment on what they aim to achieve. 

The group has three main demands:

  1. Lancaster University publicly supports an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. 
  2. Lancaster University cuts all ties with arms companies. 
  3. University management does not pursue disciplinary action against students or staff involved in protests.

More information on the university’s connection with arms companies can be found here.  

Upon being asked what incentivised them to join the encampment, one student responded that, in the face of feeling hopeless, it felt like the “right thing to do”.

“My TikTok feed was filled with Palestinians begging for donations to escape Rafah and then celebrities spending 70 grand on the met. It was just so dystopian – there’s only so much I can donate as a student, and it just felt like the right thing to do in solidarity with Palestinians and the other encampments in the UK but especially in the US.”

“I wanted to feel like I was doing something when we just watch our politicians support genocide.”

So far, support for the encampment from staff, students, and the Students’ Union is supportive of students’ rights to protest and demonstrate peacefully.

The Students’ Union has released a statement in support for the students to demonstrate their right to free speech, and their priority to ensure the protesting student’s safety. Their entire statement can be read here.

“Our first day has gone extremely well,” commented another student partaking in the encampment. “We are delighted to see the camp growing and the huge amount of support we’ve had from students, staff and the wider community.”

One member of the group told me that “loads of people have come out to support us – uni students giving us biscuits and locals giving us blankets.”

On May 1st, SCAN asked its Instagram followers: A rumoured encampment to be happening at Lancaster University by Palestine solidarity groups. What’s your opinion?

Some of the replies in favour of the encampment included: “Students need to mobilise to challenge the university’s complicity in genocide”, “Based”, and “Absolutely. It’s disguising how deep bar systems is engrained in our campus”.

The group has already raised £2,016 of their £3000 target. This money will allow the group to buy food and other camping equipment and will be donating any excess funds to other encampments across the country and to students organising pro-Palestine events. The link to their go-fund-me can be accessed here.

To gather more student support, the protestors are offering free lunch, workshops, and dinners to students in Alexandra square.

Further, there even seems to be support from campus security for the student’s. One encampment member I interviewed stated:

“No police presence, security have just been observing and talking to the liaison – not sure what they have talked about but we haven’t been told to leave and they actually told us where to get blocks we used to weigh down tents.”

Support from some members of staff has been achieved also.

“A few lecturers have come down to show support I think the first day has gone great!”

Despite the general support for the university to cut ties with arms companies and publicly support an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, Lancaster University has yet to reach out to discuss the group’s demands.

An official press released distributed by the groups who organised the encampment states:

“In Lancaster University the student group ‘Demilitarise Lancaster’ has been calling for the university to cut ties with arms companies since 2022, their protests have fallen on deaf ears.”

“The student revolution that we are seeing around the world is part of a mass movement of millions of people who, for the last 7 month, have been protesting Israel’s genocide on Gaza which has murdered over 40,000 Palestinians.”

“The British public are overwhelmingly opposed to this genocide, and want to see and end to UK Government complicity in Israeli war crimes.

The student movement has always played a critical role in the broader Palestinian movement in Britain and the recent encampments build on ongoing student mobilisations for Palestinian movement in Britain and the recent encampments build on ongoing student mobilisations for Palestine over the last 7 months.”

Lancaster University has been approached to comment about the situation. SCAN will update with their response.

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1 Comment

  1. Extremely disappointed by the reporting bias shown by Scan. The articles on the website lean heavily in favour of the protesters occupying Alexandra square and dont seem to give much background regarding why security or the university point of view. SCAN used to be a student newspaper which provided balanced reporting, sadly this is no longer the case.

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