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Anti-Israel Agitators Exploit Loopholes To Skirt Arrest

Protesters at University of Texas at Arlington | Image by UTA Progressive Student Union/Facebook
Protesters at University of Texas at Arlington | Image by UTA Progressive Student Union/Facebook

Students at the University of Texas at Arlington have discovered a loophole in campus policy that allows them to participate in an ongoing encampment without facing arrest.

Anti-Israel encampments have sprung up on college campuses nationwide, recognizable by their assemblage of tents sprawled about campus grounds. However, UT Arlington’s encampment looks different.

“We will not set up tents to sleep in. We will set up tarps and umbrellas so we are sheltered from the weather,” said UTA Progressive Student Union, the student group organizing the protest, on social media.

Additionally, the group states that nobody will sleep at the site of the protest, but demonstrators will instead take shifts.

In doing so, the protesters skirt around UT Arlington’s policy that prohibits camping on university property. According to the policy, camping is defined as establishing temporary or permanent living quarters on campus outside of apartments or residence halls, setting up sleeping or cooking equipment on campus, and sleeping outdoors without a hammock or similar equipment between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The only arrest made at the campus thus far has been of a UT Arlington lecturer as he began setting up two tents on campus on May 2. When police ordered him to stop, the lecturer refused and was arrested, per WFAA.

The protesters have occupied the space for over five days, as stated on Instagram. They say that they will not leave until UT Arlington divests from Israel.

“We will not give them a single excuse to displace us,” said the UTA Progressive Student Union. “Our goal is to take up space until our demands are met.”

Students at the University of Chicago also discovered a way to legally protest on campus. In January, hundreds of students and faculty gathered to create a massive Palestinian flag installation on the university’s campus. The flag was comprised of 23,000 miniature green, red, and white flags to make one one big Palestinian flag and was accompanied by a banner stating “Honor the Martyrs.”

According to the University of Chicago’s policy, banners and signs on campus are allowed only by University departments or registered school organizations, and the banner must be approved.

The display stayed on the college’s campus for weeks. To avoid chaos, counter-protest, and arrest, protesters took a simple step: asking for permission. According to Paul Alivisatos, president of the University of Chicago, the student organization security university permission to assemble the flag on the university’s Main Quad.

“[The flag] was staffed by students at tables during certain hours. Those students could explain to passersby why they thought it important to feature this installation, why they thought that language was appropriate, and any other views occasioned by their installation,” said Alivisatos in a statement. “While this protest and accompanying message were offensive to many, there was no question that it was an exercise of free expression.”

Other universities have similar policies. At the University of Texas at Austin, the site of recent anti-Israel protests that have amassed over 100 arrests, school policy states that exhibits must get prior approval before being put on campus.

A general exhibit is defined by the school as “an object or collection of related objects, designed to stand on the ground or on a raised surface, which is not a table, is designed for temporary display, and is not permanently attached to the ground.”

The pop-up encampment of tents protesters put on the school’s South Lawn falls under the category of a general exhibit. The encampment was met with a dispersal order from UT Austin’s Police Department, and those who did not comply faced arrest.

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