First-Ever Faculty Gaza Solidarity Encampment Erected at The New School

The group named its encampment after Refaat Alareer, a professor whom Israel killed in December.

Student activists set up a protest encampment in support of Palestine inside the New School on April 21, 2024, in New York City.

Workers for The New School in New York City have erected the first-ever faculty solidarity encampment amid the wave of pro-Palestine protest encampments that have been led and sustained by students at over 100 colleges and universities across the U.S.

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of about 20 faculty put up roughly six tents in the lobby of the New School University Center, a major building for the university, as Hell Gate reported. The autonomous group named their encampment after Refaat Alareer, a prominent Palestinian writer, poet, professor and activist who Israel killed in a targeted airstrike in Gaza in December.

“The Israeli military has slaughtered over 40,000 people in Gaza,” faculty said after tents were erected, per Hell Gate. “As we restart The New School Gaza Liberation Encampment, bombs rain down on Rafah, where over 600,000 children are trapped. U.S. funds, U.S. weapons, U.S. endorsement continues unabated. Every university in Gaza has been turned to rubble.”

The encampment is the only one standing in New York City after numerous schools in the city unleashed the full force of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) on protesting students, violently clearing encampments at Columbia University and City College of New York last Tuesday, Fordham University on Wednesday, and the New School and New York University on Friday. Then, on Tuesday night, police brutalized students and journalists in a surprise clearing of the encampment at the Fashion Institute of Technology, which was the last known remaining student encampment in NYC.

NOW: Faculty members at The New School set up the ‘Refaat Alareer Faculty Solidarity Encampment’ inside the lobby where the student encampment was swept by NYPD last week

This encampment is the first known faculty encampment in the country and the only encampment in NYC pic.twitter.com/nYZR5HFW3C

— katie smith (@probablyreadit) May 8, 2024

Part of the aim of the faculty encampment is to express solidarity with students who the university ordered arrested. Police arrested 45 students early Friday morning while students were sleeping, with protesters saying that 150 police were present to raid the encampment. Students who were arrested have called for faculty and staff at The New School to go on strike in solidarity with the protesting students’ demands.

Overall, roughly 2,600 students across the U.S. have been arrested in campus crackdowns on pro-Palestine protests so far, according to a count by The Appeal.

“Alareer used his position as an academic and as an artist to amplify voices for a liberated Palestine,” the faculty group said in a statement released as the encampment went up. “In addition to aligning in solidarity with our students, we stage this protest in his memory, in the memory of the over 40,000 innocent civilians already killed in Gaza since October 7th, 2024, and in honor of the life that persists and will persist in Palestine.”

The faculty laid out five main demands, with divestment from 13 weapons manufacturers that the school is invested in at their core. They also called for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions, amnesty for students and staff punished by police and the university, and an end to the university’s collaboration with the NYPD.

The group has called for their movement to spread across universities, the same way that Columbia students’ encampment sparked similar protests nationwide.

“We call on faculty across all campuses to escalate and take greater coordinated risk in solidarity with the student movement, their demands, and the people of Palestine and their righteous struggle against 6 months of a genocide and 75+ years of settler colonial violence and apartheid,” the faculty said.

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Sharon Zhang