Students at the Aberdeen encampment for Palestine

The Palestine encampment at Aberdeen university packed up on Wednesday after five weeks of action, with management making concessions.

Student Fiona praised the encampment “for bringing a community together, the university to the table and holding the university to account”. She added the lesson from the encampment is that “there needs to be an escalation to do something about it” if a university is complicit in Israel’s genocide.

The university management has committed to reviewing its investments with the aim of extending the scope of its ethical investment policy. It would cover the entire arms sector and companies which are involved in the illegal settlements in Palestine.

Management has committed to reviewing its contract with HP computer systems, which provide computer hardware to the Israeli army and maintain data servers for the Israeli police.

It has confirmed that there will be no institutional or academic ties between it and any Israeli universities in the future. And it has committed to joining the Higher Education Scholarships for Palestinians scheme.

The management has put out a statement “demanding an immediate cessation of military offensive in Rafah”. It calls for “the protection of the Palestinian communities in Gaza from genocidal acts and the opening of channels for basic and humanitarian supplies”.

After receiving the university’s pledges, which were announced last Thursday, students at Aberdeen decided to remain at the encampment. This was until management took initial steps towards making the commitments.

On Tuesday, the students met with management and confirmed deadlines for it to take action on the commitments.

The students then decided to begin to decamp. Students at the encampment posted on social media, “We know this is not the end of the struggle.

“Continued engagement with the university is essential to ensure that it follows through on its commitments in the long term.”

Rory, a student at Aberdeen university, told Socialist Worker that the encampment resisted pressure to decamp earlier until they secured more assurances. He said, “After we saw management’s statement for the first time, we told them we wanted more concrete timelines to be in place. On Tuesday they provided a timeline of events.

He said that students have a plan for re-escalating in September. “We will be back in September to hold them to their word,” he added.

Fiona said, “It was hard to get concessions in any form.” But she said, “We have got the university to not engage with Israel in any form, amounting to essentially an academic boycott—although they don’t want to call it that.”

Rory said that the students are ready for more action. “If things don’t happen by the dates they have given us, then we will take action. The timeline allows us to hold them to account,” he said.

Rory said, “Students are much more up for direct action and prepared for further action. It’s been a training ground to prepare for the future. And people see the university management as not on our side too.”

Fiona agreed, “It took away any optimistic view of what the university is. The way senior management spoke to us was disgraceful and that changed perceptions.”

Rory said the plan for September is “for us to go in very hard”. “We want to jump start momentum by starting political activity as soon as we get back. There are more people ready to disrupt and more events to disrupt next year.

“If management doesn’t comply with divestment, then we will head straight back into political activity whether that is encampment or something else.”

Students fighting for Palestine “are stronger now than when we were” before the encampment, Fiona added. “The encampment brought together a lot of different activists. People are ready to fight for Palestine in whatever way they can,” she said.

It shows that action can win concessions and build up the Palestine movement on campus.


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