Students in UW tent encampment demand divestment from Israel

The university posted no-camping signs on campus, which protestors changed to read “University of Palestine” and “Camping allowed.”

students sitting on the grass near tents on the UW campus

A group of University of Washington students established a tent encampment on campus Monday, April 29, 2024, to demand the university divest from weapons makers and other connections with Israel. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)

Around 25 demonstrators gathered Monday morning on the quad of the University of Washington’s Seattle campus to establish an encampment in solidarity with Gaza, joining a wave of similar efforts on campuses across the nation.

Student organizers from UW’s Progressive Student Union say they are demanding the university cut ties with U.S. weapons manufacturer Boeing, materially divest from Israel and end the repression of pro-Palestinian students, staff and faculty.


The university posted no-camping signs on campus, which protestors changed to read “University of Palestine” and “Camping allowed.” (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)

“Once we saw encampments starting at Minneapolis, at Emory, and across the nation, we really just realized this is something we have to move on now,” said Mathieu Chabaud, UW second-year student and PSU member. "We’re going to be here until we see a written commitment from the president of this university, Ana Mari Cauce.”

The encampment was originally scheduled to begin April 25, but was delayed after backlash over the group’s lack of consultation with Arab, Muslim and Palestinian student groups. Chabaud said after long discussions with other student groups on campus, PSU decided to establish their encampment.

During 10-minute increments as students passed through the quad between classes, demonstrators chanted “Free free Palestine,” answered questions about the encampment and offered free pizza and snacks donated by community members to students. The encampment had grown to about 40 participants by late afternoon.

Students stand near the encampment established Monday, April 29, 2024, on the University of Washington campus to protest the Israel-Hamas war. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)

After Columbia University students established their Gaza solidarity encampment earlier this month, students at dozens of universities across the nation have followed suit. The movement has put university administrators under a microscope as they weigh students’ right to protest against campus safety.

Student encampments have led to thousands of student arrests. Meanwhile, University presidents like Harvard’s Claudine Gay and the University of Pennsylvania’s Liz Magill have resigned following Congressional probes into antisemitism amid growing tension on college campuses.

“We will monitor the situation throughout the day and respond as appropriate to maintain a safe and secure environment for our campus community,” University of Washington spokesperson Victor Balta said in an email.

Students sit inside and outside of a tent at the encampment on the University of Washington campus established on April 29, 2024, to protest the Israel-Hamas war. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)

Demonstrators who arrived on campus around 8 a.m. Monday morning said they were met with signs stating “No camping allowed.” The signs have since been marked up by demonstrators to read “University of Palestine” and “Camping allowed.”

Throughout the afternoon, demonstrators chanted “Resistance is justified when people are occupied,” and “UW you can’t hide, you are funding genocide,” calling out the UW’s ties to U.S. weapons manufacturer Boeing, which has supplied thousands of bombs to Israel for the country’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

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About the Authors & Contributors


Scarlet Hansen

Scarlet Hansen is a student journalist at the University of Washington and Crosscut's 2024 legislative intern.