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Wayne State moves to remote operations as pro-Palestinian demonstrators refuse to leave encampment

Pro-Palestinian encampment forces Wayne State to switch to remote operations
Pro-Palestinian encampment forces Wayne State to switch to remote operations 02:58

(CBS DETROIT) — Wayne State University moved to remote operations Tuesday morning, citing an "ongoing public safety issue" as pro-Palestinian demonstrators refuse to leave their encampment on campus.

The university announced Tuesday evening that it would continue with remote operations through Wednesday. 

Demonstrators established an encampment on Wayne State's campus last Thursday, in an attempt to push the university to divest from companies and investment funds with ties to Israel. The demonstrators say they plan to stay in place until the university meets their demands. 

Wayne State University moves to remote operations for "public safety issue" 02:39

"Some of our demands are to divest from more manufacturing companies such as the S&P 500 portfolio. Also, we want the Board of Governors to recognize the student Senate-passed resolution, the police resolution," said Wayne State alum Zaynah Jadallah on May 23. 

Early Tuesday morning, the university issued the following alert on its website: 

"Due to an ongoing public safety issue, Wayne State University will transition to remote operations, effective immediately until further notice. Students will receive further information from their instructors regarding class arrangements via email or Canvas. Faculty and staff who can work remotely are expected to do so; those who are unable to work remotely should contact their supervisors for further instructions. All on-campus events are canceled until further notice. Critical infrastructure workers are expected to report to campus."

A Wayne State spokesperson confirmed Monday evening that the school asked the demonstrators to remove their encampment by 6:30 p.m., but they did not. 

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined demonstrators at their encampment Monday night and offered support.

Wayne State President Kimberly Andrews Espy issued the following message to university students, staff and faculty on Monday: 

"In keeping our commitment to productive dialogue, we believe it's important to connect directly with occupants of the encampment. Today, we were able to share several concerns about the encampment, and representative occupants shared their demands for divestment and policing reform.  

"We will continue our attempts to engage with occupants of the encampment and advance dialogue about our concerns. Our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of everyone on our campus, including the occupants of the encampment. 

"As the President of Wayne State, it is my responsibility to consult broadly and work with experts to chart the best course for our university community.  

"Wayne State is defined by our environment of inquiry, where we recognize that solutions to difficult problems are not simple, straightforward, or immediate. We all have unique perspectives on current events, and we all know others who hold different beliefs. No matter our disagreements, we share our commitment to this university. 

"I trust that we all will continue to respect each other. My hope is that we continue to advocate, engage, and learn from one another to keep Wayne State the exceptional university it is."

The demonstrators have requested a meeting with Espy and the school's Board of Governors at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

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