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University of Lausanne calls for end to pro-Palestine sit-in

Pro-Palestinie sit-in at University of Lausanne.
A pro-Palestinian protest has been held at the University of Lausanne since May 2. © Keystone/Valentin Flauraud

A pro-Palestinian sit-in continues at the University of Lausanne (UNIL). On Monday evening, a group of students refused to agree to a deadline set by the rectorate, which now calls for the university building to be evacuated.

On Monday, UNIL management and the student collective failed to agree on the terms of a meeting. The university wanted to hold talks with a restricted number of people at its headquarters, while the student collective insisted on negotiating in the Géopolis hall, which has been occupied since last Thursday. Hundreds of students and supporters (1,300 according to the collective) gathered on Monday evening.

+ Student protestors at University of Lausanne continue pro-Palestine sit-in

Claiming they had been “betrayed”, the protesters said the occupation would continue until the UNIL management came to the Géopolis hall for talks and gave “concrete answers” to its demands. They have set a new meeting with the rectorate for Tuesday at 6pm.

The UNIL management responded to their demands in writing on Monday afternoon. As requested, it listed the agreements (three in all) currently in force between UNIL and Israeli universities. However, it refused to introduce an “academic boycott”, as demanded by the students.

UNIL says these three collaborative programmes “do not contribute to Israel’s war effort” in technological and economic areas linked to the arms industry. It adds that these collaborations do not contravene its principles, and therefore “there is no reason to interrupt” its academic relations with Israel.

Avoid police intervention

UNIL management has now asked students to leave the university premises where they have been holding a sit-in. It says it wants to avoid having to resort to police intervention but maintains that it can no longer authorise “the collective to stay day and night in buildings designed for research and teaching activities”.

It says it is prepared to provide space where the collective can continue its activities during university opening hours. But this could only be done if the collective consists of UNIL members.

+ Read more: our coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian war

“Our demands are clear and we’re sticking to them,” one of the protesters told the Keystone-SDA news agency, adding that any further action would be taken “collectively”.

The students say they are still open to dialogue and have decided to continue their action peacefully. They say the rectorate has made a “commitment” to come to Géopolis to negotiate, and they still hope that it will do so. “If he doesn’t come on Tuesday, he will be unworthy of the commitments he made to us,” said a collective spokesperson.

The representatives of the collective were also pleased to see “a growing mobilisation”, with more students coming to the Géopolis hall in recent days.

A letter of support, which has been circulating since the weekend, has also over 200 signatures from professors, researchers and various members of staff at UNIL.

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Adapted from French/sb

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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