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UW-Milwaukee Popular University for Palestine comes to an end after negotiations with administration

By staff

Palestine solidarity encampment at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Milwaukee, WI – On May 12, the 14th day of encampment at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the UW-Milwaukee Popular University for Palestine Coalition reached an agreement with university administration. Students agreed to take down the encampment, known as “Falasteen Lawn,” after hard-fought negotiations and winning one of the strongest agreements in the country.

Student leaders fought hard in negotiations with the university administration, pushing back on bad faith negotiations, lackluster offers, and ultimatums. Through struggle, the students won demands including an official public statement from the university condemning the genocide, an end to study abroad trips to “Israel,” and a meeting with the UWM Foundation which controls university funding.

It is through militant action that the students of UW-Milwaukee forced their administration to make these concessions. Student organizations had been pressuring the university to meet these demands for months, but it only took 14 days for the encampment to force their hand, signifying the success of this action.

As part of the agreement, students were given until Tuesday, May 14 at 8 a.m. to take down the encampment.

On Monday evening, the day before takedown was completed, students, faculty and the community gathered for a feast and celebration of their wins. “We may have taken the tents down, but this will always be Falasteen Lawn. For as long as Palestine is occupied and until Palestine is free, this will remain Falasteen Lawn,” said Patricia Fish of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

Despite taking down the encampment, student organizers emphasized that the fight does not end here. Rather, the struggle continues into a new phase with new targets like the UWM Foundation and UW board of regents. Both entities have direct control of university funds for UW-Milwaukee and the UW system as a whole.

As a part of the agreement reached with the university, five student leaders went into a meeting with the UWM Foundation, which was the only meeting held with students that included absentee Chancellor Mark Mone. The meeting, held on Tuesday, May 14 at 10 a.m., demanded full disclosure of investments made by the university and to divest from all companies that do business with Israel.

Audari Tamayo of SDS said about disclosure and divestment, “If we don’t get that, we’re going to keep going. We never agreed to not set up an encampment. We never agreed to stop protesting.”

The UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition includes Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Muslim Student Association (MSA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Un-PAC, and Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA).

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