Harvard pro-Palestinian students end encampment but vow continued protest

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(Reuters) – A group of Harvard students said on Tuesday they would peacefully end a pro-Palestinian protest encampment after the university agreed to discuss its endowment with the protesters and begin reconsidering involuntary leaves it imposed on some.

A Harvard spokesperson said the school had agreed to a “discussion regarding students’ questions related to the endowment” and referred to prior statements from Harvard leaders rejecting calls for divestment from Israel-linked companies.

The Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine (HOOP) coalition, which has called on the school to divest from companies with ties to Israel, announced in an Instagram post that it would dismantle the three-week-old encampment, but vowed to “re-group and carry out this protracted struggle through other means.”

“We are under no illusions. We do not believe these meetings are divestment wins. These side deals are intended to pacify us away from full disclosure and divestment. Rest assured, they will not,” the post said.

The encampment at one of the country’s most prestigious universities had divided the campus community, with some wealthy alumni condemning the protests as antisemitic and counter to “Western values” while others signed letters supporting the protesters.

Colleges and universities roiled by similar protests across the country have taken varying approaches, with some controversially summoning riot police to campus and others allowing demonstrations to unfold without intervention.

Harvard has agreed to begin the process of reinstating at least 22 students from involuntary leaves of absences and to expedite the cases of more than 60 students facing administrative charges for their involvement in the encampment, according to the student newspaper.

Protesters on Tuesday morning played music from a speaker while taking down their tents and removing their sleeping bags from the Harvard Yard, a central part of the campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the student newspaper reported.

Nearby, workers assembled the temporary stage and banner display for Harvard’s commencement ceremonies next week.

(Reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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