🔴 Protesters were given a 4 p.m. deadline to end their encampment at Rutgers

🔴 Participants were slowly taking down tents

🔴 Rutgers University police were standing by

NEW BRUNSWICK — The pro-Palestine protest that lasted four days at Rutgers-New Brunswick ended Thursday afternoon after the university gave protesters a 4 p.m. deadline to pack up their tents and leave.

The encampment on Voorhees Mall along College Avenue remained peaceful since it was established on Monday afternoon by the group Students for Justice in Palestine. According to live coverage by News 12 New Jersey, Rutgers police were standing but not making a move on the crowd as 4 p.m. came and went.

Protesters appeared to slowly start to fold up their tents and take down banners.

By the evening, however, the demonstration was over, with organizers saying they had won enough concessions from the university administration.

"This resolution was achieved through constructive dialogue between the protesting students and our leadership teams," the university said in a written message to the community.

"Despite the myriad ways to address the national movement, our focus has remained on ensuring our students' safety and our university's smooth operation. This agreement opens the door for ongoing dialogue and better addresses the needs of our Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian student body, which numbers over 7,000."

The university said students who participated in the encampment could still face sanctions under the code of conduct.

A reporter named Spyder Monkey on the social media site X said that protest organizers told the crowd that eight of their demands had been met but not divestment from Israel. Protesters told News 12 that they promised to return if Rutgers did not divest.

SJP on Thursday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for their response to President Jonathan Holloway's deadline.

On their Instagram page, SJP said: "State police about to be unleashed on Rutgers students at the encampment. Mobilize. Come right now." The post was soon removed.

What Rutgers agreed to

In the message announcing the end of the encampment, Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Francine Conway said the university would meet some of the protesters' demands but not divest from companies tied to Israel or cut ties with Tel Aviv University, although she said "the divestment request is under review."

"The protesting students have voiced their desire for representation within our community through a cultural center, diversity initiatives, and the symbolism we display to celebrate our global diversity. They also seek representation in our curriculum through partnerships, like our existing one with Birzeit University, and an expansion of Middle Eastern studies," Conway's letter said.

"The Advisory Council for Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian Life will be critical in facilitating further discussions on academic initiatives in collaboration with the Office of the Chancellor. A comprehensive list of student requests and the Office of the Chancellor's response can be found here. This agreement is predicated on the absence of further disruptions and adherence to University policies."

Disruption to final exams

In a letter to the college community just after 2 p.m., Holloway explained that the administration met with the group to impress upon them the importance that final exams take place without interruption. Final exams were scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

"The University has consistently taken steps to make clear to protesting organizations, including this group, our policies reflecting our commitment to free speech and the University's thresholds for disruptive activity," Holloway said.

The group instead called for a protest called "F*** the finals" with the intent to get the school to cancel finals.

"There are no more universities in Gaza, why should we go to school and resume business as usual when Palestinians are being murdered for their sole crime of being Palestinians? END THE GENOCIDE AND CUT TIES WITH THE ZIONIST STATE," the SJP wrote in an email sent at 11:18 p.m. Wednesday night.

Demands of the SPJ met by Rutgers
Demands of the SPJ met by Rutgers (Canva)

'F*** the Final' protest was the last straw for administrators

Out of an "abundance of caution," the school canceled exams scheduled before noon at the College Avenue campus. According to Holloway, 28 exams to be taken by over 1,000 students were impacted.

"This morning, we met again with the students representing the protest, again expressing our concerns for safety and student success, and informed them that their tents need to be removed from Voorhees Mall by 4 p.m. today," Holloway said. "If the protesters do not comply and disperse, clearing the area of their tents and belongings, they will be considered to have trespassed, and we will be left with no other option than, with the assistance of law enforcement, to remove the protesters and their belongings.

Not all the protesters were from Rutgers, according to Holloway.

Holloway said that the existing Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian Life was convened to review and advise the school on their academic and student life requests at Rutgers–New Brunswick. SJP's demands of the school were not addressed in the letter.

Biden: "Dissent must never lead to disorder”

President Joe Biden on Thursday rejected calls from student protesters to change his approach to the war in Gaza while insisting that “order must prevail” as college campuses across the country face a wave of violence, outrage and fear.

“Dissent is essential for democracy,” Biden said at the White House. “But dissent must never lead to disorder.”

He largely sidestepped protesters' demands, which have included ending U.S. support for Israeli military operations. Asked after his remarks whether the demonstrations would prompt him to consider changing course, Biden responded with a simple “no.”

Biden said that he did not want the National Guard to be deployed to campuses. Some Republicans have called for sending in troops, an idea with a fraught history. Four students were shot and killed at Kent State University by members of the Ohio National Guard during protests over the Vietnam War in 1970.

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