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Campus Protest Complaints and Required Action

May 2, 2024

The message below was sent on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
We write to review multiple concerns and complaints about the student encampment on Merion Green.  
As a College community, we continue to respect and allow for diverse ideas, voices, perspectives, and, as necessary, protests. However, we are increasingly finding that the time, manner, and place of these current protests are problematic. This is a particular strain on our community at a time of year when many students are stressed and wish to focus on finishing their academic work. 
On Tuesday, we met with protest organizers, who stated a shared common value of supporting the right of all students to access fully unimpeded the educational opportunities at the core of Bryn Mawr’s mission. While their sights are centered on the Middle East, we must maintain our focus on the immediate and longer-term wellbeing of the Bryn Mawr community.
Since the encampment has been operational, multiple community members and campus neighbors have reached out with concerns and complaints. These range from 40 Bias reports filed this week to Campus Safety accounts to concerns about upcoming student- and College-sponsored events.
The student protestors are asking for a College declaration in support of a cease-fire in Gaza and a divestment of the endowment from companies that invest in Israel.

We have shared that the College is committed to providing an environment where many viewpoints are open to debate and where all community members have a sense of belonging. Therefore, we will not demand a cease-fire.
We conducted an educational session on April 3rd for students with President Kim Cassidy and Board of Trustees Chair Cynthia Archer to review the College’s rigorous and expansive approach to socially responsible investing. For principled and practical reasons, this approach is a better strategy for achieving impact than general divestment. As information, none of our current endowment investment holdings are related to the Israeli defense apparatus, and none of the Israel-domiciled companies are on the divestment demand list.
Let us be clear: the physical buildings and grounds of our College belong to the College and are for the use of the entire Bryn Mawr community in line with our educational mission. On Tuesday, two students elected by SGA approached the encampment to request that they move to a new location. Their request was refused. While we understand that students in the encampment do not want to celebrate May Day in the traditional way, they do not have the right to deny that experience to their peers. For many students, it is a deeply meaningful experience in which they should have the choice to participate fully.
To accommodate May Day and Commencement preparations, campus leaders, including administration and Campus Safety, met with the encampment representatives to share that they now must shift to a space adjacent to Senior Row by the end of the day today ---Thursday, May 2nd. This change will be in effect until the end of the academic year.
Individuals who engage in protests that violate our stated limits of not causing harm, harassing or intimidating others, or posing a danger to others will be brought before a Dean’s panel. We and other staff spoke to multiple students who feared for their safety Tuesday, yesterday, and today. This is an unacceptable outcome of protestor actions and rhetoric and will not be tolerated.
Community members who feel unsafe or wish to report a concern should consult with campus support resources or contact our Campus Safety office. You can also submit any concerns about Honor Code violations using this form
We must balance an individual’s right to free expression with a need to safeguard the ability of all students, faculty, and staff to engage within our community without tolerating harassment or intimidation. From those who hold vastly differing perspectives, we do hear common ground about the horrible loss of life in the Middle East. We will continue to engage perspectives through opportunities for learning and dialogue while enforcing relevant policies to help us meet these goals. 
Kim Cassidy
Karlene Burrell-McRae
Undergraduate College Dean
Tomiko Jenkins
Dean of Students

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