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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 15, 2024

Timeline of 2023–24 student activism for divestment from Israel

Inside the past eight months of campus demonstrations following Oct. 7.

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent bombing and ground invasion in Gaza sparked widespread protests and activist demonstrations on campuses across the country, including at Tufts University. Throughout the last eight months, students have urged Tufts to divest from its Israeli connections and acknowledge a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. The following article provides an overview of recent activism on campus.

Oct. 10, 2023 —  University President Sunil Kumar first addressed the attacks in an email to the Tufts community. The next day, Kumar sent a follow-up entitled “A personal note,” condemning the Oct. 7 attack as “pure barbarism.” The university denounced an email sent by Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine to its e-list on Oct. 9, which referred to the “creativity” of Hamas’ surprise attack.

Oct. 25, 2023  SJP organized a walkout from classes, leading to a rally outside Olin Hall. Students then marched to Kumar’s office at Ballou Hall, where dozens entered the building and staged a sit-in on the first floor.

Nov. 5, 2023 — Protesters interrupted an open Tufts Community Union Senate meeting with President Kumar, demanding divestment from Israeli companies. They staged a die-in, lying on the floor and obstructing Kumar’s ability to leave until Tufts University Police Department officers escorted him out. Three days later, the university reiterated its free speech policies in an email.

Nov. 14, 2023 — The newly founded Coalition for Palestinian Liberation at Tufts, composed of 11 student groups, organized a walkout and 10-hour sit-in for Palestine in the Mayer Campus Center with over 250 students in attendance.

Nov. 17, 2023 — Students protested outside of Ballou Hall, blocking the entrances of the building. Following the protest, the university issued disciplinary violations to 18 students and revoked one student’s study abroad privileges. A Daily investigation documented that TUPD officers engaged in physical and verbal harassment of protesters at the scene.

Jan. 16, 2024 — Kumar issued a video to the Tufts community addressing the campus climate and the role of student activism for the first time since Nov. 8. “Disruption cannot take the place of dialogue,” he stated in reference to the recent protests.

Jan. 30, 2024 — CPLT held a protest for Palestine at the Campus Center, reengaging in its campaign for divestment from Israel.

Feb. 13, 2024 — CPLT staged a walkout alongside similar demonstrations at other schools on National Student Day of Action for Divestment.

Feb. 25, 2024 — CPLT introduced four resolutions to the TCU Senate. The resolutions called for the Tufts Global Education Office to end study abroad programs in Israel; Tufts Dining to end the sale of products connected to Israel at Tufts; an acknowledgment of genocide in Palestine and an apology from the Office of the President and the deans of the school; and the Tufts Investment Office and the Tufts administration to disclose all of Tufts’ investments and divest from all companies directly and indirectly tied to Israel.

March 3, 2024 — Over 300 undergraduate students attended an open Senate meeting to debate the four resolutions introduced by the coalition in the prior week, in deliberations lasting 4 ½ hours. The Senate voted to pass three of the four resolutions at 3 a.m. The resolution calling on the university to end approval for study abroad programs at universities in Israel failed to pass.

March 4, 2024 — Kumar and other administrators denounced the resolutions in an email sent to the community less than 12 hours after the Senate announced the results of the votes, and condemned antisemitic, Islamophobic and anti-Arab incidents reported at the meeting.

March 5, 2024  In response to Kumar’s email condemning the resolutions, protesters staged a die-in at Barnum Hall. The protesters marched to Gifford House — Kumar’s residence — and plastered flyers reading “Shame on Sunil Kumar” and “Shame on Tufts” on the door.

April 7, 2024 — Protesters first set up tents on the Academic Quad but temporarily took them down on April 17. They installed a separate demonstration, a mock “Apartheid Wall,” on the President’s Lawn the same day.

April 21, 2024 — Students rebuilt the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” in the evening following the arrest and suspension of over 100 Columbia University students at their campus encampment over the weekend.

April 26, 2024 — In the largest protest of the academic year, over 300 Tufts students, faculty, nearby residents and Somerville High School students rallied in solidarity with Gaza in a march across campus and around the perimeter of the Academic Quad.

April 28, 2024  The university addressed the encampment for the first time. In an email, the administration requested the removal of tents to facilitate preparations for Commencement. In response, Tufts SJP affirmed its intent to maintain the encampment until its demands were met by the university.

April 30, 2024  Tufts’ Office of General Counsel issued a “no trespass order” to students remaining at the encampment on the Academic Quad after negotiations with students previously failed.

May 3, 2024  After three days under trespass warning, students dismantled the Gaza Solidarity Encampment for reasons unrelated to the negotiations. No deal has been reached with the university as of May 9.