People protesting Gaza war comply with ISU’s order to take down their tents

Protestors removed their tents after the written warnings were issued, he said. (Photo courtesy: WMBD)


NORMAL – People protesting the war in Gaza at Illinois State University abandoned their encampment after the school told them it was in violation of campus policy.

The reaction on ISU’s Normal campus is in far cry to what is happening elsewhere in the nation. Student protestors have been forcibly evicted and many arrested at Columbia University and the University of California in Los Angeles.

ISU’s spokesman Chris Coplan said the university told the protestors they could face a bevy of consequences up to and including suspension and possible termination for employees who were taking part.

The groups protesting include Students for Justice in Palestine ISU and the Young Democratic Socialists of America ISU. The students sent a letter to the university stating that they are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and hope to “remove ISU’s complicity in genocide, hoping to learn from and assist ISU in cutting ties with problematic corporations.”

Coplan said peaceful protests are always welcome on campus but the university has policies to manage the time, place and manner of the protests. The written warning given to students stated that structures and tents attached to the Gazebo on the quad needed to be removed.

“While the structures erected and amplification used by demonstration participants yesterday were not authorized, they were not asked to leave,” he said. “University officials made repeated contact with demonstration participants throughout the day on Tuesday and early Wednesday regarding university policies and requirements for activities on campus grounds.

“When these conversations with the group did not prompt compliance, the University ultimately issued written and verbal warnings to participants on Wednesday morning about the consequences of noncompliance,” Coplan said.

Protestors removed their tents after the written warnings were issued, he said.

“Illinois State University is appreciative of this cooperation and welcomes the group to continue a peaceful protest in compliance with university policies,” Coplan said. “Civic engagement is a core Illinois State value, and the University recognizes the efforts of our campus community to embody the values of our Redbird community.”

According to a letter protesters sent to the university, some of the demands the protesters have for ISU include:  

  • A ceasefire statement from the university calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire for Palestine.
  • Release a statement in support of the Palestinian Student body.
  • They are asking the university to divest from all companies “complicit in war crimes and human rights violations. This includes Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamic, Boeing and Honeywell.
  • Ban Israeli companies from campus.
  • Boycott and academically divest from Israeli institutions, including Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and any study abroad programs.
  • Complete transparency about the university’s investments and spending.

WMBD TV can be reached at [email protected].


Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…