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BREAKING: Pro-Palestine encampment at Western

Student groups demand acknowledgment from university administrators

The encampment outside of Old Main at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., on May 14, 2024. Participating students are calling for Western to divest from any institution that supports Israel. // Photo by Jack Glenn

This is a developing story. Some information may change as the situation unfolds.

Around 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, students began organizing an encampment on the lawn of Old Main on the campus of Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.  

The participants are led by Western’s Jewish Voice for Peace and Arab Student Association. Their goal is for Western to divest in any institutions that support Israel in the Israel-Hamas war. 

The five demands of this group include a call for “Acknowledging harm and correcting wrongs, full financial disclosure, complete divestment from Israel, investing in community, and scheduling an emergency board of trustees meeting.” 

The encampment is made up of tents and signs written with the group's statements. Organizers are at the front of the area providing information to anyone interested in learning more or joining the encampment. At this time, the group is preparing by getting systems up and running and spreading information about the cause, according to a student involved. [Source requests anonymity due to personal safety and threat of legal issues.] 

If law enforcement becomes involved, the group plans to stress that they are a peaceful organization. 

“Any violence would be coming from either admin, the City of Bellingham or counter protestors,” an involved student said. “So it's really up to them to decide whether or not there will be violence.” 


A gathering of students at the Pro-Palestine encampment on Western's Old Main lawn on May 14, 2024, in Bellingham, Wash. A sign reads "Popular University for Gaza," a slogan which has appeared at encampments across the nation. // Photo by Riley Nachtrieb

The student also explained that the encampment at Western has been focused on learning from other encampments on how to protect themselves as well as be skilled in de-escalation. 

Before students can enter the encampment, there is risk assessment and in-depth information provided by organizers. 

“They can make that choice for themselves if they want to join us,” the involved student said. 

The ultimate goal is to have the demands met by the university. The organizations hope that the university will take tangible steps to divest, publicly apologize for the harm that has been caused to Arab students, and invest in the ethnic studies department at Western. 

“We don't want to be here, I would rather be at my house,” the involved student said. “But after meeting with Western president Sabah twice, he did not express any interest in meeting our demands.”

The students do not intend to leave until their demands are met.

Peyton Perdue

Peyton Perdue (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a second-year visual journalism major minoring in religion and culture studies. When she’s not reporting, you can find her taking pictures, reading or (most likely) napping. You can reach Peyton at

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