Minnesota News

Carleton College students face disciplinary action after pro-Palestinian occupation

Protesters raise their fists
University of Minnesota students participated in a walkout to protest the clearing of a pro-Palestine solidarity encampment and arrest of nine students by university police for trespassing earlier in the day on April 23. Since then, protests have ended.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Updated: May 21, 11 a.m.

Twelve Carleton students are facing disciplinary action after they remained in Laird Hall, a campus building, during a protest occupation.  

Campus administrators sent an email to students on Friday, the day of the occupation, informing them they could and would face disciplinary probation if they remained in Laird past 5 p.m., Helen Clarke, associate vice president for Communications said.   

The students were demanding that university leadership divest from companies manufacturing weapons being used in the war in Gaza and invest in opportunities for Palestinian students, demands that are in line with protests at universities across the state and the nation.   

The occupation of Laird Hall started Friday morning. A dozen stayed overnight before eventually leaving Saturday afternoon.  

“The decision by some students on Friday to enter and remain inside Laird Hall — which was locked in anticipation of a planned sit-in — was a disappointing escalation of their activity, and a clear violation of college policy,” Clarke said. “We care deeply about our students and did not want to be in a position to have to move them out of a building.” 

These students met with Carleton’s director of community standards to hear about the disciplinary action, Clarke said.  

Faculty members met with President Alison Byerly outside her house on Saturday afternoon to discuss the situation and their concerns on behalf of the students still in Laird, Clarke said. 

Students are still holding an encampment on the Chapel Lawn. Clarke said that the college has offered no guarantees of how long the encampment will be permitted to remain but said that they do not plan to take action regarding the encampment due to the activity at Laird Hall. 

Organizers said they’re seeking a town hall meeting with Carlton President Alison Byerly. College officials said Byerly invited the students to meet with her. 

Carleton’s trimester ends at the beginning of June. 

“Our encampment on the Chapel Lawn will remain until demands are met," Porter said. “As Laird occupiers stated upon their departure on Saturday, ‘divest or we’ll be back.’” 

Correction (May 21, 2024): An earlier version of this story included information that did not accurately reflect the students’ demands. The story has been updated.

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