Skip to content
Main menu hidden.
Published: 2024-05-16 Updated: 2024-05-28, 08:10

Students protest for Palestine on campus

NEWS Pro-Palestinian student protests are taking place on Campus Umeå. Other authorities have been informed and Umeå University has replied to the questions sent to the University by the protest group. “As long as things remain calm, the University sees no problem with the demonstration taking place,” says Per Ragnarsson, Assistant University Director and Budget Director at Umeå University.

Since mid-April, pro-Palestinian student protests have taken place in the United States. The protests have since spread to campuses in other countries around the world, including a number of campuses in Sweden. On Wednesday 15 May, the group “Umeå Students in Solidarity with Palestine” started a demonstration and set up tents on Campus Umeå.

Umeå University underlines the importance of freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate and will always defend the right of every citizen to peaceful and lawful demonstrations. To engage in issues that you believe are important is a cornerstone of academic freedom, something that Umeå University values highly.

Assistant University Director and Budget Director at Umeå University, Per Ragnarsson, visited the demonstration at lunchtime on Wednesday to talk to the participants.

"It was a good conversation. The University wants to underline that it is important that everyone feels welcome and safe on our campuses. If the demonstration takes place in a continued calm manner and does not disturb teaching, research, or order on campus, the University does not see a problem with it taking place", says Per Ragnarsson.

The University has responded to the group

In connection with the demonstration in Umeå, the protest group has submitted a list of comments to Umeå University, including that the University should take a public stand for Palestine and suspend cooperation with Israel.

The University has responded to the group, explaining that as a public authority, it is not within our remit to manifest views on foreign politics. The University's mission is to conduct education and research.

Umeå University safeguards academic freedom and academic autonomy, which means that researchers have great freedom to decide for themselves who they want to collaborate with based on their field and as long as they follow decisions made by the Swedish parliament and the government.

In cases where the University has acted in response to a conflict or external event, it has been on the basis of instructions from the government, such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine, when the government ordered authorities to suspend cooperation and trade agreements with Russia. Swedish authorities were also asked to show solidarity with Ukraine, and Umeå University chose to raise the Ukrainian flag on its campus.

No cooperation with Israeli universities

Umeå University currently has no academic collaboration with any universities in Israel. However, there may be collaborations between individual researchers at Umeå University and Israeli researchers, within international research programs. Umeå University does not have any student exchange agreements with any university in Israel.

The protest group has also asked whether the University has agreements to purchase goods and services from Israel. Umeå University follows the Public Procurement Act. This means that the University cannot exclude goods and services from any country, if there are no trade restrictions against the country in question.

The police have been in contact with the protest group. As there was no permit for the public gathering on Wednesday, a report of a violation of the Public Order Act has been filed. Akademiska hus, which owns the land, is also aware of the demonstration.

If the current situation on campus raises concerns for anyone, students can contact the Student Health Service and employees can contact the occupational health service.