Goldsmiths concedes to demands of pro-Palestinian encampment

The university said it would “review” the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism


Students occupy the Goldsmiths University library on 1 May, 2024, barricading themselves in the building and hanging signs that read 'From the river to the sea' and 'Shut it down for Palestine.' (Photo: Goldsmiths for Palestine)

Goldsmiths University has capitulated to the demands of students who set up an encampment in the South London university’s library this week, agreeing among other things to rename a building after Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, reviewing the university’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and to memorialise the occupying students via an installation.

Students barricaded themselves in the university’s library within the Professor Stuart Hall building on Wednesday, echoing the pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have sprung up on campuses across the United States in recent weeks.

The student-led group Goldsmiths for Palestine (G4P) said their demands included “divestment, more scholarships for Palestinian students, revoking the IHRA definition of antisemitism and scrapping the protest guidelines and use of bodycams at student protests.”

The south London university announced today that the college’s senior management team is “working to meet a set of commitments” and will undertake to deliver on the commitments “to the best of its ability,”

Goldsmiths has also promised a review into the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the school’s commitment to it. It has also promised to create an installation on the exhibition wall of the lower ground floor of the Stuart Hall Building to “memorialise G4P’s student occupation.”

It will also commit to “supporting a proposal to rename one of the lecture theatres on the LG floor of the PSH building after Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was killed while reporting on conflict.

SMT will create a “Steering Group” whose duty will be to guide the college’s work on “delivering support to rebuild universities and scholarships in Gaza. This will include developing and delivering a college-wide strategy for engaging with Palestinian universities, including twinning opportunities.”

SMT will also extend the number of Humanitarian Scholarships for postgraduate students from two to three, which includes £60,000 in living cost grants and £60,000 in fee-waivers, and which will be renamed as Palestinian Scholarships. SMT also pledges to “introduce undergraduate scholarship support for Palestinian students,” and committed to proposing two undergraduate scholarships.

A post to the G4P group’s social media channels on Friday read, “Victory. After 6 months of protest, 5 weeks of occupation and a flash encampment in the library, management has conceded to our demands for Palestine.”

The news comes ahead of a meeting later this month between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and university vice-chancellors about what they are doing to combat antisemitism and intimidatory behaviour.

Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the Commons, said in Parliament recently that she hoped “all UK universities will be in no doubt about their responsibilities to all that attend their campuses and their facilities but in particular to those communities that are feeling particularly under attack.

“That is what we expect of them, and we hope and expect that they will meet any such notion of similar protests with an extremely strict response,”

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