Cambridge University students withdraw their encampment from Senate House lawn

Student protestors have withdrawn from Senate House after the university agreed to negotiate

Cambridge For Palestine has announced that they will withdraw their encampment from the Senate House lawn after Cambridge University agreed to negotiate and met a number of their preconditions.

Senate House lawn encampment (Image Credit: Robbie Lit)

In a statement released via instagram, Cambridge for Palestine has labelled the outcome as a “victory”, with a rally outside Senate House scheduled for 9pm today, 16th May 2024, to celebrate protestors as they return to the main encampment on King’s Parade.

Student protestors climbed the fence surrounding Senate House and occupied the lawn in the early hours of Wednesday 15th May after the university failed to meet their deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 14th May for negotiation.

Cambridge for Palestine has described the move by the university as a “small victory” which paves the way for their demands “to be met in future negotiations”. The encampment on King’s Parade is set to continue until the university and its colleges disclose, divest and reinvest all financial support for Israel and protect at-risk Palestinian students.

The current extent of the encampment on King’s Parade (Image Credit: Iris Rogers)

As reported by the Standard, the university made a statement yesterday saying that it had decided to host this weekend’s Degree Congregations at an undisclosed alternative location due to the presence of protestors on Senate House lawn. The university is yet to announce whether the change will be reversed now that the protestors are set to leave tonight.

Earlier this morning, former home secretary Suella Braverman and GB News were ignored by protestors during their visit to the encampments. Braverman, a former CUCA chair and Queens’ alum, and GB News presenter Patrick Christys were accompanied by media escorts who failed to get protestors to be interviewed.

Cambridge for Palestine told protestors not to engage with GB News and Braverman, explaining in a statement to Varsity, “we refuse for our movement [to] be used as a tool for an irrelevant person to gain any political relevance they lost, and we will not engage with them”.

Cambridge Jews for Justice (CJ4J), who joined the Cambridge for Palestine encampments, made a statement to Varsity criticising Braverman for being “complicit in the ongoing genocide” and “seeking to distract us from what [the] government is funding, by stocking flames in a culture war that makes students less safe here and everywhere”.

They also hit out at “non-Jewish politicians seeking to weaponise our identities, divide us from Jewish communities, and telling us what is and isn’t antisemitic.” CJ4J emphasised antisemitism on campus is a real issue but fear-mongering and scape-goating each other is not the way to tackle it.