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Pro-Palestinian encampment grows on University of Michigan campus, calling for divestment

Pro-Palestine protests take over University of Michigan Diag
Pro-Palestine protests take over University of Michigan Diag 02:04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - Students created an encampment at the University of Michigan Monday, calling for the university to divest in companies they say are financially supporting Israel.

"It is a symbolic method of resistance," one student told CBS News Detroit.

"Many of them are concerned for their safety as Jewish students on campus," another said.

It's a growing movement seen on other university campuses across the country. Multiple tents were seen in the center of the university's Diag, with signs and flags flying in protest of the war in the Middle East.

"In various college campuses, the bravery of our students, the bravery of the cause, and the sheer diversity of this cause. A lot of people have been galvanized and inspired to join us wherever we are, wherever we stand, for however long we stand," said one student, who wished to remain anonymous.

Many participants wish to remain unnamed with their cause; several others said they feel unsafe and that the encampment is blocking a central part of campus.

"It's scary, it's terrifying. The sign says, 'Long Live the Intifada,' and that's just a call back from the second Intifada, and not a comfortable feeling," said one student. "When I woke up this morning, I went to walk to class. It was the first time this semester I had to walk around the Diag, which I'm not used to."

In a statement to CBS News Detroit, a spokesperson from the University of Michigan said the following:

"This morning, 20 tents were placed on the main quadrangle, known as the Diag, at the University of Michigan. Students are able to engage in peaceful protest in many places on campus and, at the same time, the university has a responsibility to maintain an environment that is conducive to learning and academic success. No one has the right to substantially disrupt university activities or to violate laws or university policies. We are working to minimize disruptions to university operations – most especially with classes ending tomorrow and the study period beginning before finals. Safety is always a key priority and, as such, we have increased security on campus. We are carefully monitoring the situation and remain prepared to appropriately address any harassment or threats against any member of our community.

"Regarding the calls for divestment, the university has had a policy in place for nearly 20 years that shields the university's investments from political pressures. Much of the money invested through the university's endowment, for example, is donor funding given to provide long-term financial support for designated purposes. The Board of Regents reaffirmed its position earlier this year."

Demonstrations have been spreading to campuses in various parts of the country recently, with most of the protesters voicing support for Palestinians and anger at Israel's handling of the war. In New York, Columbia University's president canceled in-person classes Monday in response to the protests and said classes would be hybrid through the end of the semester.

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