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UT-Austin Students Prepare For New Protest Thursday, Faculty Criticize Arrests

UT-Austin faculty and other university members have criticized the response against Wednesday’s pro-Palestininan protest where armed state troopers arrested more than 50 people.

According to The Texas Tribune, at least 57 people were arrested at the peaceful protest hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Committee.

UT-Austin President Jay Hartzell said the student protesters had “tried to deliver on their stated intent to occupy campus” and defended the university’s response. The Department of Public Safety said the university and Gov. Greg Abbott had requested assistance to maintain the peace by “arresting anyone in any sort of criminal activity.”

“The University did as we said we would do in the face of prohibited actions,” Hartzell said.

On Thursday morning, the Faculty Council Executive Committee blasted the university’s response, saying Hartzell’s message did not justify the reaction.

The Texas chapter of the American Association of University Professors also criticized the university’s response and said it would not hold classes to protest the response.

“Instead of allowing our students to go ahead with their peaceful planned action, our leaders turned our campus into a militarized zone,” the group said. “No business as usual tomorrow. No classes. No grading. No assignments.”

Now, students are planning another protest for Thursday at noon, where the Texas State Employees Union originally planned to rally against staff and program cuts under a law that bans diversity, equity and inclusion at public universities.

This week, hundreds of students have been arrested on campuses across the country demanding a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and for universities to cut financial ties with companies that enable the conflict. 

At New York University, 133 protesters were taken into custody; at the University of Southern California, 93 protesters were arrested; and at Emerson College in Boston, 108 people were arrested on Wednesday. More students were arrested and protests continued on campuses including Harvard University, Brown University, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt.

Some Jewish students have said the protests are anti-Semitic and that they are afraid to be on campus while people are protesting.

Last night, about 150 people gathered outside the Travis County Jail in Austin, chanting “let them out” and “free Palestine.”
So far, 34,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the war, about two-thirds of them children and women.

Written by RA News staff.


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