Curtin uni students suspend Palestine encampment, vow to restart next semester

May 28, 2024
Occupying the engineering pavilion at Curtin University on May 22. Photo: Friends of Palestine WA/Facebook

Students at Curtin University, who set up a Palestine solidarity encampment outside Vice Chancellor Harlene Haynes’ office on May 1, decided to suspend it on May 30.

Curtin University Students for Palestine (S4P) voted to end their encampment after the student guild withdrew its support following a 150-strong protest occupation of the engineering pavilion on May 22.

The students called on the university to cut ties to weapons companies including Lockheed Martin, Huntington Ingalls, BAE systems and Babcock Australasia.

The occupation was the culmination of various protests demanding the university management, in particular Haynes, meet students to discuss their demands to disclose and divest from companies supporting Israel and all Israeli companies and universities.

Students at Curtin, like those across the globe protesting their university managements, want the university to condemn Israel’s genocide which, since last October, 2023 has killed more than 40,000 people.

After the occupation, the Student Guild signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the university management.

It comes nowhere near the encampment’s demands, which included Guild members. It does not commit Curtin to any form of divestment, or break in research ties to companies complicit in the genocide.

The university has only offered to disclose, annually, a list of organisations without details of the nature of the ties, or the amount of money changing hands.

Moreover, the MoU does not mention “genocide”. It does not recognise the interim ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which decided there was a plausible risk of genocide.

Instead, it uses the “both-side” argument, giving the university “ethical” cover to continue doing business with companies fueling the genocide.

The S4P encampment rejected the MoU and, initially, vowed to continue until their demands were met.

S4P has received support from the public and organisations including Friends of Palestine WA, Unionists for Palestine and Jews for a Free Palestine WA.

However, the S4P subsequently decided to end the encampment given that Semester 1 ends in June. But it has vowed to continue its campaign to force the university to disclose, divest and cut all ties to Israel in the second semester.

It will hold its final speak-out on May 29 at 4pm at the Curtin University Koi Pond, outside the Robertson Library.

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