top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

“They Need To Roar”: Staff and Students Say Further Escalation of Encampment is Needed

University Community react to pro-Palestine camp on Elphinstone Lawn


By Finn Abou El Magd

Protestors outside University Office
Protestors from the encampment. Photo credit: Kirsten Koss

As the Pro Palestine encampment enters its third week, campers have made it clear they intend to remain on Elphinstone Lawn until the University meets their demands.  

 

While the University agreed to call for a ceasefire last week, calling it an “obvious imperative”, they have yet to meet any further demands. 


Following a meeting on Monday with encampment representatives, Principal George Boyne and University Secretary Tracey Slaven revealed a £90,000 indirect investment in Israel. 


With senior managers agreeing to meet campers on Elphinstone Lawn at 13:00 today, campers, supporters and spectators alike are waiting to see what is next.


Will the camp escalate?


The latest action saw two protests by campers: a sit-in outside University Offices on Monday, and a demonstration on Tuesday evening, where protestors blocked lift access at the Sir Duncan Rice Library.


Campers are prepared to escalate if conversations do not positively progress. In their statement addressing the University’s reply, encampment leaders said:  

“If we are not satisfied with University management’s commitment to justice, liberation, and divestment, we will be forced to take further action.”


One anonymous staff member told us they supported escalation, saying that the campers “need to do more. The campout feels pretty tame. If you want to be heard, you need to roar.”


Speaking on the impact of the camp, one student noted: “It isn’t disturbing anyone or anything so I’m not sure what they expect to achieve. Nothing more will come from sitting in tents on an empty patch of grass.”


Another staff member told The Gaudie escalation will be the fault of senior managers.


They said: “If escalation happens, it’s directly because SMT have failed to listen to the encampment.”


Senior Management Labelled Apathetic


Some students feel like the University's approach has been the right one, with one anonymous student telling The Gaudie: “I appreciated the University’s protection of peaceful protests, and that they haven’t met the campers with resistance.”


The University has been careful to not contravene the campers’ right to protest but they should be doing more to engage with demands, one student told us. 


However, they added: “The University’s response lacks initiative, reflecting the wider apathy of SMT towards students and staff.”


One anonymous student noted the University have done all they can: 


“The University has been transparent, honest, and clearly been supportive. The investments made have been stated, and their intentions to further divest have been promising. Their professional commitments/boundaries have been worked with the best they can.”


Another student also sees apathy from senior management, noting: “They’ve been very respectful, but I don’t think they’re taking the encampment seriously.”  


“Calling for a ceasefire was the bare minimum. Aberdeen University needs to divest from the Israeli state, or else the institution will continue to be complicit in genocide.”


While the Student Union has yet to release a statement on their official position on the encampment, several of AUSA’s Student Officers participated in Monday’s protest – wearing masks like many of the protestors and joining in the chants.


Student encampments at university campuses across Scotland, England and Wales have swiftly risen. There are now over 30 UK university campuses housing camps in support of Palestine, compared to 14 camps two weeks ago.


Students at the University of Edinburgh have undergone a hunger strike for the past three weeks.


And now, we wait…


With senior management’s position remaining steadfast and the campers refusing to budge until all their demands are met, things seem to be at an impasse.


Over two weeks into their occupation of Elphinstone Lawn, the encampment has raised a significant amount of £2,378 (at the time of writing) via their GoFundMe to support their ongoing efforts.


Unused funds will be donated to UN relief efforts in Palestine.


As the camp continues to call for donations, it remains to be seen how far they are willing to go to have their demands met.

Comments


bottom of page