Melbourne University slammed for caving into anti-Israel protesters

Activists secured a key demand after a week-long occupation and intimidating university leadership.

Melbourne University slammed for caving into anti-Israel protesters
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Melbourne University has faced allegations of succumbing to 'blackmail and intimidationafter anti-Israel protesters claimed a significant victory following their week-long occupation of the Parkville campus.

The protesters occupied the Arts West building on March 15, establishing tents and blocking entrances. On Wednesday evening, they announced in a press conference that the university had agreed to disclose all research partnerships with weapons manufacturers, marking a substantial win for their campaign.

Shadow education minister Sarah Henderson criticised the university’s response on Thursday, calling it a "real failure of leadershipand an "appalling decision."

“This is appalling and it says illegal action and intimidation can work at Melbourne University," Senator Henderson told 3AW host Tom Elliott. 

“The fact that it has taken no misconduct proceedings against any student involved in harassment, intimidation, or illegal occupation shows a complete weakness of leadership by the university. For this sort of blackmail and intimidation to reign supreme at the university is just completely unacceptable.”

The protesters celebrated their achievement, stating:

“After months of campaigning, rallies, petitions, meetings and in recent weeks, the encampment, the University of Melbourne has finally agreed to meet an important demand of our campaign: to disclose all research partnerships with weapons manufacturers. This is a major win.”

The university agreed to reveal these partnerships within a month, with an independent body chosen by the protesters overseeing the process. The activists also warned against any punitive actions against those involved in the protests and vowed to continue their campaign until all demands were met, emphasising their primary goal of divestment from entities profiting from genocide.

Initially, the group committed to ending their encampment and occupation by Thursday morning. However, they later demanded written confirmation from the university before disbanding.

“The university gave us the promise of disclosure,” protest organiser Deena El-Shabasei told ABC Radio. “Once we get disclosure… the encampment will wrap up, but the movement will not wrap up.”

Melbourne University acknowledged the protesters' willingness to vacate the premises but noted they had not yet done so. The university updated its website to reflect its commitment to academic freedom and transparency in research partnerships:

“We welcome continued engagement and discourse within our community and remain committed to a safer and more secure future for all Australians, the university stated, reaffirming its support for academic freedom and ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders.

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