U of M president meets with student protesters

U of M president meets with student protesters

U of M president meets with student protesters

Pro-Palestinian protests at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus continued for a third day on Wednesday.

Jeff Ettinger, the U of M’s interim president, met with students and university leaders on Wednesday morning.

Following the 90-minute meeting, which Ettinger called productive, the interim president said commencement ceremonies won’t be impacted by protests.

“We had a very constructive dialogue this morning. The meeting had been scheduled for a half-hour but instead we spoke for an hour and a half because we were engaged in good conversation,” Ettinger said. “Both those involved with the protest and our University leaders need to go back and discuss possible outcomes from today’s meeting with our colleagues. When we have updates to share, we will provide those.”

RELATED: Multiple buildings at U of M campus to remain closed Tuesday following pro-Palestine protests

Leaders of the student protesters say they ultimately want the University to meet six demands, including divestment from Israel, something student protesters at campuses across the country have also called for. The students did acknowledge that they understand some of those things don’t happen overnight.

“As long as there’s structure, an effort, research that goes into it, that’s what we want,” one of the U of M students, Omar, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “We understand this is not going to be a this semester thing or next semester thing. As long as there’s a plan and structure to it that’s what we want for the future.”

“Regardless of whether they use endowment dollars or tuition dollars, as long as the money is still being used to create these weapons, we do not support that,” Abu Ali, a junior, added.

The University isn’t sharing specifics about its investments, but a spokesman said, “The University has very little direct business or investments in Israel or Palestine.”

“The University of Minnesota, like many universities, essentially sub-contracts out their investing to a number of different fund managers,” said University of St. Thomas finance professor Dave Vang.

A University spokesperson says long-term investments typically do not include tuition dollars, that they come from endowment funds among other sources.

Vang added typically, college endowments are invested in huge financial portfolios and outsourced to a third party.

He says tracking down a specific stock or company with ties to Israel would be difficult, with no simple list to look through.

KSTP asked if it would be an impossible task.

“Nothing’s impossible if you throw enough money on it, if you’d be willing to sacrifice enough of a return to go through all the expenses and the accounting to make that happen,” Vang said.

While the protesters maintained a presence on campus Wednesday, it was another quiet day, although some in the Jewish community have expressed concerns with some of the language used in protest chants. One of the organizers told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they don’t allow Antisemitism at any of the encampments and hasn’t personally heard of any issues.

“If there are any individuals causing any problems, we made it a point, we don’t accept Islamophobia, we don’t accept Antisemitism here. If there’s individuals, we deal with them right away,” Omar said.

Wednesday was the third night of the encampment on campus — and protesters said they aren’t going anywhere.

“The plan is to stay until we get some sort of resolution from the board of regents,” Ali said.

There’s no telling when this encampment may end, with many buildings remaining closed on Wednesday.

But the interim president said graduation ceremonies will go forward on Saturday.

“As long as they respect everybody around them and things around them, and property, I don’t have an issue with it because I would appreciate these same rights would not be impeded on,” said Noah Husby, a senior.

The Jewish Community Relations Council says Jewish students and the JCRC will have a meeting with the interim president Thursday morning to address, “Antisemitism on campus and bias against Jewish students and/or Israeli students.”

U of M president meets with student protesters

U of M president meets with student protesters