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University of MN students make gains in ongoing fight for divestment from apartheid Israel

By Merlin Van Alstine

Palestine solidarity encampment at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Minneapolis, MN – On Thursday, May 2, 500 people gathered outside the University of Minnesota Humphrey School to celebrate the wins that the UMN Divest coalition had made the previous day.

On April 29, UMN Divest set up a permanent encampment on the mall of the UMN East Bank campus to call for divestment from Israel and all entities complicit in war crimes and human rights violations. By April 30, the administration had reached out to meet with the organizers to talk negotiations.

UMN Divest is made up of four groups, Students for Justice in Palestine, Students for a Democratic Society, Young Democratic Socialists of America, and Students for Climate Justice.

By the night of May 1, organizers had made some concrete gains towards divestment. The full list of demands included:

  1. Allowing the encampment to stand until the public email is released and providing adequate time for the encampment to be taken down without police interference.
  2. Fulfilling their commitments to disclosing all financial ties, including all weapons companies by May 7, 2024.
  3. Fulfilling the promises made during our negotiations up until this point including : a. Email on May 2 to the general university community announcing all commitments. b. May 7 financial disclosure c. Biweekly meetings with SJP that include incoming President Rebecca Cunningham in our meetings. d. Publicly denounce all criminal charges against protesters e. Bi-weekly meetings with administrators till full divestment f. Discussion of upcoming commitments during the May 10 Board of Regents meeting g. Establish partnerships with Palestinian universities
  4. Negotiating in good faith instead of continually making promises they never plan on fulfilling.

While these are steps towards divestment, divestment is not something won overnight. As it stands, this is the most any student group has won in a decade. UMN Divest understands that administrators like to go back on their promises, and the groups are not afraid to escalate further if any of the promises are broken.

As students, staff, faculty and community members marched onto the now-empty mall, the marks of the encampment remained on the grass. At the site of the former encampment, speakers talked about the continued work ahead to fully win divestment.

UMN Divest and all members of the UMN community will not stop until the University of Minnesota fully divests from the genocidal apartheid state of Israel.

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