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Bruins in Paris

Student onlookers express differing opinions on pro-Palestine encampment

(Julia Zhou/Photo editor)

By Sam Mulick

April 25, 2024 9:24 p.m.

Students and community members had mixed feelings about the ongoing pro-Palestine encampment on campus, with some expressing support while others said it made them uncomfortable.

Hundreds of people gathered with tents outside Royce Hall on Thursday to call for the UC to divest from companies associated with the Israeli military and to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Protesters chanted slogans such as “Free, free Palestine” and “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” within an encampment surrounded by signs such as one reading, “This is not war, this is genocide.”

Although access to certain buildings including Royce Hall and Powell Library was restricted to people with BruinCards, UCLA has not reported any disruptions to classes as of Thursday afternoon.

[Related: UCLA community organizes encampment in response to national call for escalation]

The encampment follows similar ones at other universities across the country, including UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California, over the past couple of weeks. Protesters have been violently arrested at some encampments.

Emmett, a first-year mathematics and physics student who did not give his last name, said he appreciated students’ messages about peace and freedom in what he called a once-in-a-generation cultural moment. As a Jewish student, he said he did not believe there was any malicious intent from the students in the encampment.

“Unlike a lot of other Jewish students on this campus, I don’t believe that these people have any malice or hate for Jews,” he said.

Emmett said the encampment was an effective method to engage members of the campus and the surrounding community who may have differing opinions. He added that he hopes there are no police arrests, as there were at Columbia University and USC.

Erin Lee, a second-year psychology student, said she thinks the UC should offer more support to its Palestinian students, and that the university has taken a direct role in the war in Gaza through its investments in companies affiliated with the Israeli military. She added that while she thinks students in the encampment were sending a very powerful message, she doubts the UC system will respond to their actions.

“What I’m concerned about is whether the UC will actually do anything, even if people are out here protesting,” she said.

(Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)
A student wearing a yellow backpack walks past the encampment. Access to Royce Hall and Powell Library was restricted to those with BruinCards. (Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)

Lee said she appreciates going to a school like UCLA, as she thinks students are passionate about their beliefs and supportive of each other. She also said she thought it was a powerful demonstration by the UCLA community.

However, not all students supported the protest.

Lavie Levi, a fourth-year mathematics of computation student who is Jewish, said he felt uncomfortable and threatened by the encampment, adding that he believes some of the imagery used by the protesters – such as the red triangle and Chancellor Gene Block with horns on his head – is antisemitic.

“I feel very uncomfortable,” he said. “I might skip my classes today and go home because of the clear signs of antisemitism that I see that are not being reprimanded on campus.”

Some students supported the political activism of the protesters, though they did not participate in the protest themselves.

Declan Foley, a second-year political science student, said he came on campus to see the protest after seeing the news from a local Los Angeles station. Foley added that he hopes the on-campus demonstration is peacefully resolved without escalation or the involvement of police, and people can go home knowing that they have made their voices heard.

“I don’t necessarily agree, but I appreciate and acknowledge the passion that these students have,” he said. “It’s good to see that this generation is politically active, and they care.”

Contributing reports by Catherine Hamilton, News editor.

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Sam Mulick
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
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