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Message from President Mangelsdorf on Removing the Encampment Today

Dear Members of the University Community,

Earlier this morning, members of the University’s Departments of Public Safety and Facilities informed occupants of the encampment on the Eastman Quadrangle—a mixture of students and community members—that they needed to leave because the encampment was being removed. Following this, those in the encampment chose to soon disperse from the area. We appreciate their willingness to do so peacefully and to refrain from interfering with the removal process. However, two people not affiliated with our University were arrested this morning for damaging one of our large Commencement tents.

I hope to have more to report about our steps going forward in the coming days, but for now, I hope that the restoration of the quadrangle will mark a return to regular campus life for students, faculty, and staff. I also want to reiterate that the dismantling of the encampment does not mean that my senior leadership team and I are no longer willing to engage with all students about having respectful and proactive conversations about the University’s role in times of conflict. Nor does it mean that our firm resolve and vigilance in protecting students from discrimination and harassment will wane.

The violence in the Middle East has been heartbreaking for people all over the world. Members of our University community have lost loved ones in the war in Gaza, in the events of October 7, and other members of our community are still awaiting word about loved ones who are being held hostage by Hamas. As a community devoted to advancing knowledge and moving the world forward, we should be able to engage one another in honest and productive dialogue about the conflict and what it means for our community. We have been open to such dialogue since October 7, providing students with plenty of space and opportunity to express their views about the war. We have also, on many occasions, reaffirmed the students’ freedom to criticize the University and our policies.

We have, however, also been clear that conduct that violates legally stipulated restrictions on the time, place, and manner of protests would not be tolerated. Taking over the University’s common green spaces for three weeks and building a fortified encampment that included structures constructed with lumber and concrete blocks, along with homemade shields and other materials that represented safety concerns and unsanitary conditions, crossed the line from peaceful expression into actionable violations of University policies and, we believe, municipal law. For many reasons, we could not allow such conduct to continue, regardless of the stated premise of those who took such actions.

I want to thank the staff members from Student Life, Facilities, Public Safety, and other University teams for their professionalism in working to remove the encampment. They have demonstrated our University values in their patient and civil approach in working to de-escalate tensions on campus. I also appreciate everyone’s patience today, particularly those whose routine commutes to campus were disrupted or who had to change their plans. We hope to have the Eastman Quadrangle soon restored to a common green space usable by all members of the University community.

As I noted in a message to the community last week, we will evaluate the steps that we have taken—and not taken—over the past year regarding many of our policies and approaches. We will learn from our experiences as we work to become a better community.

As we turn toward our Commencement Weekend, we will closely monitor all campus spaces and activities. I look forward to joining members of the University community to celebrate the achievements of all our graduates.


Sarah C. Mangelsdorf
President and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor

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