College in Detroit suspends in-person classes because of pro-Palestinian camp

Wayne State University in Detroit suspended in-person classes Tuesday and encouraged staff to work remotely to avoid any problems with a pro-Palestinian encampment that sprouted last week.

“All on-campus events are canceled until further notice. Critical infrastructure workers are expected to report to campus,” the school said in a statement around 5:30 a.m.

Wayne State spokesperson Matt Lockwood said there have been “public safety concerns,” especially about access to certain areas.

There were two dozen tents on green space near the undergraduate library Tuesday. Participants milled around while police and private security watched nearby. Two portable toilets were full and not usable.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has been at the site to offer support.

“We have told the organizers to remove the encampment several times and they have declined to do so,” Lockwood said.

Wayne State has 16,000 undergraduate students but fewer during the summer term.

Protest camps sprang up across the U.S. and in Europe as students demand their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that they say support its war in Gaza. Organizers seek to amplify calls to end Israel’s war with Hamas, which they describe as a genocide against the Palestinians.

In California on Tuesday, about 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked the entrances to the University of California, Santa Cruz campus, keeping cars from coming and going for several hours.

The action came as graduate student workers continued a strike that began last week over the university system’s treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters during weeks of campus protests this month.

The student workers say the university violated students’ free speech rights and they are demanding amnesty for anyone facing discipline for protesting. The demonstrators blocking campus access Tuesday appeared to include a mix of striking workers and others.

Protesters said Tuesday’s blockage was meant to draw attention to an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafa that local officials said killed at least 45 people.

By late afternoon in Detroit, Wayne State said students declined to meet Tuesday with President Kimberly Andrews Espy and two more officials. It was the second offer this week.

A video from Monday showed Vice President Patrick Lindsey asking that the camp be disbanded in exchange for a meeting. One protester is heard calling the offer a “joke.”

Lindsey explained that Wayne State’s investment policy would be publicly discussed at a June 26 meeting of the university’s governing board.

The University of Michigan on May 21 broke up a similar encampment after 30 days.

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Associated Press journalist Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz, California, contributed.


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