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Drexel University to return to "normal operations" amid pro-Palestinian encampment on campus

Drexel University to resume normal operations on Thursday as pro-Palestinian encampment continues
Drexel University to resume normal operations on Thursday as pro-Palestinian encampment continues 00:39

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- In a letter to Drexel University on Wednesday night, President John Fry wrote the campus will return to "normal operations" on Thursday and once again called for the pro-Palestinian encampment at Korman Quad to disband. 

With additional security in place, Fry said all classes, lectures, facilities and events will return to normal operations on the University City campus with the exception of the Korman Center, which will remain closed until further notice. 

Fry said students will still be required to use their school ID to enter buildings on campus, even with the new measures in place. 

"It is important to understand that these new procedures may cause delays in entering buildings, so I ask everyone to please plan accordingly and give one another a bit of grace as we proceed with this transition," Fry said. 

Earlier this week, Drexel moved to virtual classes amid the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, which began on Saturday night at the Korman Quad. The switch to virtual left students frustrated as the school year winds down. 

Fry once again called for the encampment at Korman Quad to disband on Wednesday night. 

"I want to reiterate my call for the demonstrators in the encampment to disband," Fry said. "Any Drexel student in the encampment is violating our University Code of Conduct. All demonstrators have been warned throughout the week verbally, via emails and posted signage that they are trespassing on University property and must disperse."

Fry said the encampment has put "a tremendous strain" on Drexel's police officers who continue to manage the situation. 

On Tuesday night, Fry said officers monitored the encampment as "100 demonstrators rallied." He said many have since left the encampment, but that the presence of it "raises additional concerns when it comes to protecting our community."

Fry said that Chief of Drexel Police Melvin Singleton Jr. offered protesters to meet with university officials, but they declined the offer. 

Earlier this week, Drexel Palestine Coalition, the group of protesters at the encampment, claimed Fry has "not made a single attempt to contact the encampment directly or extend a line of communication" with protesters. 

The Drexel Palestine Coalition is asking the university to divest from all companies and organizations that "actively participate in the colonization, occupation, and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people."

Fry said he's heard from the frustrated members of the Drexel community and said he's trying to do everything in his power to resolve the encampment peacefully. 

At neighboring University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Police Department dismantled a pro-Palestinian encampment in the heart of campus on College Green after it went on for just over two weeks. It remains unclear if that will happen at Drexel.

"I share your frustration and impatience, and am doing everything in my power to resolve this situation peacefully," Fry said. "We also have taken necessary steps to protect our community from individuals who may be bent on sowing chaos on our campus, as we have seen in recent protest encampments at other institutions."

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