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Hamline University refuses to divest, students vow to keep fighting for Palestine

By Kim DeFranco

St. Paul, MN – On the evening of April 27, the Hamline Students for Justice (HSJ) announced President Kathleen Murray and other college officials had agreed to meet with them, after their April 26 occupation of the campus’ administration building and holding an encampment outside.

June Gromis, a junior and member of HSJ, stated, “The Gaza solidarity encampment at Hamline University won a big victory today: amnesty for the students occupying the Old Main building, and a meeting with the university president on Monday to discuss disclosure and divestment.” They vowed to continue being a presence with their outdoor encampment.

Speaking to a crowd of divestment supporters, Gromis told the crowd, “We are going to see what they have to say. But we are going to make no assurances that we will end our presence. We are going to make no assurances that we will stop fighting until we achieve our three core demands.”

On Monday, April 29, students met with Interim President Murray and Chair of the Board of Trustees Ellen Waters.

Gromis summarized the meeting, “The president started by saying the same things other college administrators have been saying, ‘there are just different perspectives, it's a contentious issue, it's not something the university should address, we feel like you're endangering students safety and you're making people uncomfortable, you didn't have to do this,’ while acknowledging that their social justice values go against ethnic cleansing, genocide and war.”

Then the students presented their four demands: disclosure of any fiscal ties or investments in Israel, Israeli companies, or companies mentioned by the boycott, divest, sanctions (BDS) movement to be complicit in genocide; divestment from such investments; start a Social Responsibility Committee; and a statement from Interim President Murray condemning the genocide.

Gromis continued, “They agreed to have the chair of the board of trustees have conversations regarding for us being able to talk to them, make a proposal for divestment and disclosure, and create a social responsibility committee. Those conversations are moving to more powerful places, which is good, but obviously it's still very non-committal.”

The next day, Tuesday morning, the president’s team called the HSJ students into a meeting stating on her behalf that in order to send a message to the university-wide, they would have to end the encampment. Gromis responded, “We said no because the university has not met our demands. Until they do, this encampment will continue.”

Follow the organizers at @sfj_hamline and support their encampment

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