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Pro-Palestinian activists reveal new demands as Auraria Campus encampment expands

auraria encampment april 29.jpg
Posted at 9:00 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 19:03:53-04

DENVER — One week after students on Denver's Auraria Campus began staging protests over the Israel-Hamas war, organizers on Wednesday announced their new demands for college leaders.

The protest at the Auraria campus, which houses the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver, started after dozens of students set up camp on the Tivoli Quad lawn. Protesters said they didn't plan on leaving anytime soon until the universities took a public stance in the Israel-Hamas war.

The war started on Oct. 7, 2023, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing 1,139 people. Following the attack, the Israeli government vowed to destroy Hamas and has since killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, around two-thirds of them children and women, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

In Denver, students initially called on CU to divest from corporations that operate in Israel, reject grants and funding from organizations that have military ties with Israel, as well as shut down study abroad programs in the Middle Eastern country. They also demanded that CU Denver fully disclose its financial investments.

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Pro-Palestinian activists call on Auraria students to walk out Monday

Óscar Contreras
11:59 AM, Apr 29, 2024

During a press conference Wednesday, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) said it would include Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) in its demands. The group also called on the universities to meet their demands by next week.

"We've had meetings with administration multiple times, and they've continued to dismiss our demands," said Geral Mueller, a student at CU Denver.

SDS representatives met with leaders from the Auraria Campus Tuesday, including Auraria Higher Education Center CEO Colleen Walker, CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks and MSU President Janine Davidson.

"It's pretty simple to ask your universities not to provide financial support for somewhere that's violating international law," said Mueller.

SDS said the encampment has tripled in size since approximately 40 people were arrested by Auraria Higher Education Center Police and the Denver Police Department. To support the influx, the protesters have set up medical tents, study areas and port-a-potties.

In a statement Monday, Chancellor Marks said that while she supported "the rights of our students and community members to free speech and to assemble peacefully," the encampments set up by pro-Palestinian protesters at Tivoli Quad were "a different matter," as they violated Auraria campus policy and could cause public health and safety concerns.

The chancellor did not address the demands by pro-Palestinian demonstrators in her statement Monday.

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Students at Auraria campus arrested as pro-Palestinian protests continue

Óscar Contreras
1:35 PM, Apr 26, 2024

Although finals are approaching, SDS said it won't leave until their demands are met.

"The university could meet our demands and we could pack up in five minutes," said Khalid Hamu, an SDS representative. "As long as they continue to help with genocide, as long as they continue to go against the will of the students, we will have this encampment up."

The University of Colorado Board of Regents met legal representatives Wednesday during an executive session meeting "to receive legal advice pertaining to the protests on the Auraria campus and other campuses across the country," a spokesperson told Denver7. They said, "Additional legal briefings may occur as the situation develops."

Denver7 reached out to MSU for a statement but has not heard back as of the publication of this article.

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