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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Maastricht Encampment Update: The different narratives surrounding its [fall / undoing]

Wednesday, May 22, brought about multiple developments in regards to the Pro-Palestine solidarity encampment established by Maastricht University (UM) students. 

Multiple statements were released throughout the day from Maastricht University while only one statement was released on behalf of the student protesters. The updates began with the announcement of the closing of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) due to the occupation of “some faculty buildings.” Prior to Wednesday the solidarity encampment was confined to the garden, located in the back of the faculty, as well as building GG. 76, a tutorial building adjacent to the garden and the students' means of electricity, restroom facilities, shelter from rain, and study space. Building GG. 76 was closed by the faculty on Friday, with signs posted on the main doors apologizing for the inconvenience and advising students to see Canvas for any location changes.

The occupation of the front-facing building GG. 80-82 by the students on Wednesday morning proved debilitating for their standing with the university and also municipal authorities. Both statements released addressing the termination of the encampment offer contradictory, non-compatible perspectives in regards to the unfolding of events. Confusion amongst the general public stem from the opposing language used in released statements on both sides of the discourse. 

Find the link to the most recent UM update here

Find the statement from the Maastricht Encampment here.

Statement: UM Administration

Maastricht University initiated the concluding updates at approximately 8:30 p.m., stating that the occupation of the building at Grote Gracht prompted them to engage in discussions with the protesters. Public order and safety was of chief concern for not just the university, but also municipal authorities and the police. According to the statement, the conversation between the groups resulted in the voluntary disbanding of the entire occupation by students.

The statement presents a very orderly and respectful, but liminal perspective as to how the Wednesday events unraveled. The role of the police in the student's departure is not addressed nor implied. Any further statement regarding the supposed Executive Board meeting that occurred Monday or Tuesday is not mentioned.

Statement: Student Protesters

The post made by the maastricht.encampment Instagram page does not detail the daily progressions but moreover reiterates their troubles in communication with the university, the university’s condemning speech and tone, an update and end of the hunger strikers, and finally a concluding statement on future advocacy.

The statement does divulge the circumstances in which the university initiated the demobilization of the encampment, stating, “There is very little that is voluntary about leaving a space when the university sends its students an email with 18 minutes of notice to vacate the premises before the police begin arresting.” The warning of police involvement by the university is a new development unknown to the public. 

The hunger strikers, after seven full days of abstention, decided to terminate their form of protest. This development was described in the encampment’s statement as not just a reaction to the “physical space of the camp being forcibly taken away from us” but they concurred that the “physical damage it was causing to out comprads superseded the damage we were hoping it would cause to UM.” The decision to partake in this form of protest by five (initially six) individuals served the purpose of implementing time restraints on the Executive Board in their deliberations. With respect to the origins and roots of hunger strikes as a form of protest, the students' steadfast devotion also served the purpose of bringing attention to the 1.1 million people in Gaza facing “catastrophic hunger.”

Despite the ‘end’ of the solidarity encampment, the student activists present are just beginning their calls for escalation and action on behalf of the university.

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