Nina Davis/Sun Photography Editor

Protestors gather in a human chain ahead of the 8 p.m. deadline to remove the encampment.

April 25, 2024

Protestors Remain on Arts Quad Past 8 p.m. Deadline, Await Potential Campus Police Action

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Protestors decided to remain on the Arts Quad encampment past the 8 p.m. deadline previously given by administration. They could now face removal or disciplinary action. 

Following negotiations with the administration, the protestors began to consider options regarding further action in internal negotiations. 

At around 7:23 p.m., protestors began to condense the area of the encampment to enclose only the tents, reducing the enclosed circumference of the ‘liberated zone’ by almost half. Shortly after, all water and other supplies were removed by volunteers in case they faced arrests. Organizers also instructed volunteers to store fresh food in the basement of McGraw Hall. 

Over 200 people joined the protest during an ‘emergency rally’ convocated by the Coalition for Mutual Liberation over Instagram, including faculty members and some Ithaca residents. The protestors were instructed to form a human chain around the encampment at 7:45 p.m. Over 100 people formed the chain.

As the 8 p.m. deadline arrived, protestors began chanting: “Disclose divest, we will not stop, we will not rest” and showed no intention of leaving the encampment. 

CUPD officers were parked around the Arts Quad monitoring the protest. Christopher Cowen, executive vice president and chief financial officer, watched the protest from the Andrew Dickson White statue in front of Goldwin Smith Hall. He told The Sun that protesters had overstayed the 8 p.m. deadline and were now in violation of trespassing, for which they could face temporary suspension or arrests and eviction. However, when asked about when or how the trespassing violation would be enforced, Cowen gave a vague timeline.

“We are not going to operate on a timeline,” Cowen said. “I think that what we have seen is that having flexibility for us to manage an evolving situation as we deem appropriate is in the best interest of the entire community, so that is how we will continue to operate.”

Around 8:30 p.m., protestors resumed negotiations with Cowen in front of Goldwin Smith Hall. Cowen tried to reassure listeners that the issues included in the demands have been the topic of recent communication within the administration.

In response, some protestors expressed frustration with a lack of concrete action from the University. “These are conversations that the administration has been having for years,” said Bianca Waked grad.

Cowen remained firm, stating that the administration will not engage in any discussions with the protestors as long as they remained in violation of University policy. 

Several Jewish students also spoke to Cowen, at around 9 p.m., raising concerns over the University’s hesitance in enforcing its Interim Expressive Activity Policy.

“There are plenty of student groups on campus that follow the Expressive Activity Policy, so why would it ever be fair for them to have to follow it, and then an organization to come and completely disregard basically every single section of the policy, and then you have basically no repercussions?” one Jewish student said.

Cowen responded by emphasizing the weight of these potential repercussions, which he deemed “extraordinarily significant.”

“This is not just ‘violate the policy, and you’re going to get a slap on the wrist,’” Cowen said. “‘You violate the policy, and you may not graduate.’ That is very, very serious, and [protestors] need to be aware of that. This is the action that we are taking.”

At 9:15 p.m., negotiations between community members and Cowen came to a halt. Cowen emphasized that while the University has not yet made formal enforcement plans, suspension and arrests remain a possible outcome. 

Matthew Kiviat ’27 contributed reporting, and Eric Reilly ’25 contributed writing.