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Wayne State classes move online as pro-Palestine encampment continues

Tents on WSU campus
Nearly 30 tents have been set up outside of State Hall on Wayne State University’s campus. Protesters set up the encampment Thursday night but say they are open to meeting with the administration and the full board of governors Wednesday evening. (Bridge photo by Janelle D. James )
  • Wayne State University has moved its classes online as a pro-Palestinian encampment continues
  • Students set up the encampment Thursday and are asking for a public meeting with officials 
  • Organizers say they started the protest in solidarity with a similar demonstration at U-M

May 30: Wayne State University police dismantle encampment; 13 arrested

Wayne State University says it will hold classes remotely again on Wednesday, as students continue to decline requests to dismantle an encampment set up on the Detroit campus to protest the Israel-Hamas war. 

The university went fully remote on Tuesday morning, citing an “ongoing public safety issue.” All campus events have also been canceled “until further notice.”


Students set up the encampment Thursday night. Ali Hassan, president of the WSU Muslim Coalition said the move was in solidarity with the encampment recently dismantled on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus and similar protest camps across the country. 

“The students’ goal here is to simply have the university to divest in war manufacturing companies that are promoting Israel,” Hassan said.


It is unclear if the university has invested in companies that “support
Israel” like Hassan and protesters are accusing the university of. President Kimberly Adams Espy did respond to the student senate passing a resolution in December requesting the Board of Directors to ensure that the university is not investing in companies that contribute to the war, stating: 

“Though it is legally independent of the university, the WSU Foundation Board participates as a partner in realizing Wayne State’s overall advancement objectives, particularly in areas of student opportunity, faculty/research and community engagement.” 

Students hanging out on the grasss
Protesters are demanding that the university divest funds that they believe support the Israel-Hamas war. (Bridge photo by Janelle D. James )

The mounting tension between the WSU protestors and university administration comes one week after the University of Michigan broke up an encampment on the Ann Arbor campus and police arrested four people. Students at U-M have disrupted graduation events, held multiple rallies and repeatedly called on the university to divest any funds they say are helping to support Israel’s war against Hamas.

Organizers of the Wayne State protest have been asked several times to remove the encampment but have declined to do so, which is now considered trespassing, university spokesperson Matt Lockwood confirmed

“We had good standing with the administration in the past, working on different incidences that have happened on campus so we’re willing to meet, but not on their terms,” Hassan said. 

Roughly 30 tents were set up outside of State Hall on the university’s campus on Tuesday. 

As of 3:30 p.m., the encampment remained.

Patrick Lindsey, vice president of government and community affairs for the university, visited the encampment Tuesday afternoon offering the organizers a meeting with Espy and Shirley Stancato, chair of the university’s board of governors. 

Hassan and other organizers declined, saying they instead wanted to set up an open meeting Wednesday evening with Espy and the entire board. 

Wayne State University is one of many universities across the country where students have organized similar pro-Palestinian encampments on campus. Many demonstrators were seen wearing a Keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn in the Middle East that has now become a symbol of support for Palestine. 

The Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7, after Hamas organized surprise attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip.


In the weeks following the attacks, Israel declared war on Hamas, with the goal of eliminating the group — which the State Department has declared a foreign terrorist organization — and freeing Israeli hostages. The war has sparked protests across the U.S., including on college campuses. 

At least 35,000 people have been killed, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t differentiate combatants and civilians. There are roughly 2.3 million Palestinians that reside in the region but most of them have been displaced, some multiple times, the Associated Press reported

Israel has intensified its presence in Rafah which has displaced nearly a million Palestinians who have fled to the southern Gaza city, AP reported.

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