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UVM student protesters take down pro-Palestinian encampment

A line of tents behind chairs with signs that read "UVM funds genocide" and "Divest."
Zoe McDonald
Vermont Public
The University of Vermont student encampment went up April 28, amid other pro-Palestinian demonstrations on U.S. college campuses.

Organizers with the University of Vermont group Students for Justice in Palestine announced Wednesday that they're taking down their encampment on the school's campus.

In an Instagram post, organizers wrote "the time has now come for us to pivot our energy."

The move comes after 10 days of rallies, teach-ins and organizing within the encampment, which grew to more than 90 tents, according to a Sunday update from organizers. The effort coincided with other pro-Palestinian student demonstrations around Vermont and the U.S.

Several people stand outside near tents holding signs and Palestinian flags.
Zoe McDonald
Vermont Public
Students and community members attend a rally on Monday calling for amnesty for the students participating in the encampment in support of Palestine.

"The student body and broader community has heeded the call and mobilized to the Palestinian cause with remarkable strength and determination," organizers wrote in the Instagram post.

The students initially said they would stay camped indefinitely, or until UVM's administration observed five demands — two of which have now partially been met. Organizers credit their encampment for pushing the university to cancel the planned commencement speaker, U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, over her vetoes of resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The university also partially disclosed some endowment investment information, which protesters say they'll now research further.

Students had also called for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions, amnesty for students involved in the encampment and divestment from weapon manufacturers and Israeli companies.

UVM announced last week that it was initiating student disciplinary proceedings for some of those involved in the encampment, which they said violated university rules. The university is reacting positively to Wednesday's decision to pack up, according to a statement from UVM spokesperson Adam White.

"UVM strongly supports freedom of expression. Though student demonstrators have not communicated their intentions to the administration, the university appreciates that students have made efforts to bring their demonstration closer to compliance with university policies," White said in an email.

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Zoe McDonald is a digital producer in Vermont Public’s newsroom. Previously, she served as the multimedia news producer for WBHM, central Alabama’s local public radio station. Before she discovered her love for public media, she created content for brands like Insider, Southern Living and Health. She graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi in 2017. Zoe enjoys reading, drinking tea, trying new recipes and hiking with her dog.