MYNORTHWEST NEWS

UW buildings covered with pro-Palestinian graffiti; president responds

May 15, 2024, 7:48 PM | Updated: May 17, 2024, 2:24 pm

Image: The University of Washington community arrived on campus in Seattle on Wednesday, May 15, 20...

The University of Washington community arrived on campus in Seattle on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 and found many buildings surrounding the pro-Palestinian encampment covered with graffiti. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

University of Washington (UW) faculty, staff, and students arrived on campus in Seattle Wednesday morning and found just about every building surrounding the pro-Palestinian encampment covered with graffiti.

There’s no word on who is responsible for the graffiti. But UW President Anna Mari Cauce says representatives from the encampment told administrators “the graffiti is an intentional escalation to compel the university to agree to their demands.”

Cauce issued a lengthy statement through the UW Presidential Blog Wednesday addressing multiple topics, including the graffiti seen on campus and the tent encampment.

“The university’s response to students’ calls for change will not be based on an encampment — there are many ways for voices to be heard that don’t require tents, violent rhetoric and vandalism,” Cauce said in the statement.

The university president also explained in her statement that the administration has engaged in dialogue with some students.

Consistent with our long-standing commitment to dialogue with students during protest actions, we believe that engaging in dialogue is the most productive path to a resolution that can see the encampment voluntarily depart. Indeed, even before the encampment started, we were meeting with a cross section of students who are deeply moved by the humanitarian crisis.

Cauce went on to say that the students’ demands have escalated and include a series of orders that are “contrary to academic freedom and/or to state or federal law.”

We have engaged sincerely and openly. The representatives of the encampment have presented a series of changing and escalating demands, including most recently demanding the creation of a new department that would have an ‘anti-Zionist; litmus test for faculty hiring; granting a student group oversight of awarding new, religion-based University scholarships; and a blanket amnesty for all violations of the law and student code, including not solely camping, among other demands. Many of these demands, especially the most recent, are contrary to academic freedom and/or to state or federal law.

Previous coverage from James Lynch: More aggressive stance taken at UW encampment

Cauce also called on campers to dismantle the encampment and leave the Quad voluntarily.

“We again call on members to dismantle the encampment voluntarily for everyone’s safety, end the vandalism to our campus and continue constructive engagement with us on the issues of concern,” Cauce’s statement reads.

She concluded her statement explaining how change will be achieved on the UW campus.

“Change will be through constructive engagement on issues that are important and meaningful to our students and broader campus community,” Cauce said.

Image: The University of Washington community arrived on campus in Seattle on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 and found many buildings surrounding the pro-Palestinian encampment covered with graffiti.

The University of Washington community arrived on campus in Seattle on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 and found many buildings surrounding the pro-Palestinian encampment covered with graffiti. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

Response to the UW graffiti

The graffiti, which is impossible to miss when walking through the Liberal Arts Quadrangle, more commonly known as the Quad. A lot of passers-by stopped to read the graffiti and take pictures.

Even those who support the encampment and the cause say the graffiti is a step too far.

“I’m very supportive of the encampment. The graffiti is a difficult aspect of that because there is an element of vandalism to it,” UW student Jacob Menlay said.

More graffiti issues: UW’s ‘W’ sign besmirched with red paint by pro-Palestinian protesters

Other students believe graffiti is a justifiable tactic, given what’s happening in Gaza.

“This can be easily washed off, painted over, but genocide is genocide. We’re talking about people’s lives will end… just like that,” (snapping fingers) UW graduate Nakea Ridders said.

Workers spent the day power washing graffiti from buildings.

Contributing: Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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