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News / Northwest

Gaza war protesters agree to dismantle tent camp at Western Washington University

By Robert Mittendorf, The Bellingham Herald
Published: May 29, 2024, 8:12pm

BELLINGHAM — Demonstrators at Western Washington University protesting the war in Gaza have agreed to end their two-week tent camp, WWU President Sabah Randhawa said in a statement Wednesday.

“My sincere gratitude goes to the many staff and faculty who have supported our campus community through this process, and a special thank-you to the staff and students who committed many hours to our negotiations,” Randhawa said in a statement posted to the WWU website.

Details of the accord will be shared Friday, Randhawa said.

Student protesters claimed victory on their Instagram account, WWU Divest Apartheid.

“We won!” apparent protesters said in a post on Instagram, with a photograph of happy-looking students leaving the Old Main administration building.

“After huge pressure from the student body, culminating in an rally and die-in, our negotiations team has reached a historic agreement with admin following 10-hour deliberations,” the post states.

Protesters and WWU administration came to the agreement just over a day before the 5 p.m. Thursday deadline that the campus officials had set for them to pack their tents and leave the lawn between Old Main and Viking Union.

Some 50 to 60 protesters, including WWU students and others, pitched about 20 tents on May 14. They held a protest rally and march on May 17. The tent camp has grown to about 70, WWU officials said Tuesday.

Since that time university police have recorded several instances of vandalism with slogans protesting the war in Gaza.

A Jewish student reported to police that they were spat upon and followed home on May 17, as they walked past the protest wearing a Star of David necklace. That incident that was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Last week, Jewish faculty, students and others told The Herald that the administration wasn’t taking their safety seriously.

Several college and university campuses across the U.S. have seen similar protest encampments in recent weeks as the war in Gaza continues.