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Published June 13, 2024

Coffman Union, East Bank buildings see continued closures through Thursday at noon amidst calls for “escalation” of protests

UMN closes Coffman Union, Walter Library and other campus buildings Monday afternoon amidst protest escalations throughout the week.
Image by David Stager
The encampments as of Tuesday afternoon. Several buildings were closed by the University because of the protests’ encampments.

The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities released a SAFE – U advisory to close a dozen East Bank Campus buildings at 2:00 p.m. on Monday. 

The University sent three additional follow-up advisories through Thursday that closed the buildings through Thursday at noon.


The following buildings will be closed:

  • Coffman Union
  • Weisman Museum
  • Hasselmo Hall
  • Ford Hall
  • Vincent Murphy Hall
  • Tate Lab
  • Morrill Hall
  • Northrop Auditorium
  • Johnston Hall
  • Walter Library
  • Smith Hall
  • Kolthoff Hall

All other buildings on the East Bank Campus will be on U Card access only, the statement reads.

Activities and events originally planned to be hosted in those buildings are asked to find an alternative location, switch to remote operations or reschedule, according to the University’s follow-up statement.

Since the arrests of nine people protesting the University’s financial involvement in the Israel-Hamas war last Tuesday, there have been no arrests in the following week of rallies, marches and encampments. Now, Instagram posts by student groups leading the protests are calling for an escalation of support.

“WE NEED NUMBERS,” an Instagram post from Jewish Voice for Peace – Twin Cities reads. “Students and community members need to show up and be ready to help us prepare for major actions coming this week!” 

Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson said in a campus-wide that to ensure the safety of community members, buildings will close and updates will be communicated through SAFE-U messages. Classes should be moved to remote delivery or rescheduled to another location. 

Croson said protestors are expected to adhere to student and employee conduct policies while engaging in freedom of expression.

“The University unequivocally condemns vandalism, threatening behavior, and acts of violence, and these will not be tolerated on our campus,” Croson said in the statement. “Such behavior not only undermines the principles of public discourse and respect for others but also jeopardizes the safety and well-being of our community.”

Croson added in the statement that all members of the community are encouraged to use the Bias Response and Referral Network to report incidents of harassment, bias and discrimination.

According to several Students of a Democratic Society (SDS) and Young Democratic Socialists of America members, Monday’s protest reached its peak between 2:30 and 3 p.m. with more than 700 people in attendance.

Other student groups affiliated with the UMN Divest coalition, including Students for Climate Justice and Students for Justice in Palestine, were also represented.

Organizations outside of student affiliation involved in Monday’s protest included the MN Anti-War Committee and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, according to SDS member Liv Hackbarth.

Merlin Van Alstine, also a member of SDS, said the shutting down of the buildings was a complete overreaction from the University.

“If they are so scared of their students they should come out and talk to us and not shut down all the buildings on the last day of finals,” Van Alstine said.

Van Alstine said that the organized coalition of protestors does not have any specific action plans for the remainder of the week that they are willing to share. They added that this action comes as a response to the lack of administrative acknowledgment.

UMPD made nine arrests on trespassing charges on Tuesday: six current students, two former students and one faculty member. All had been released from Hennepin County Jail the same day in the afternoon.

The arrestees received a one-year ban from campus while detained. As of Thursday, the ban was lifted for all except the two former students. Their warnings were not rescinded due to two former students “not belonging to the campus”, according to a University press release.

Hackbarth said the use of tents, despite UMPD’s response to their first encampment attempt, is a symbolic decision meant to represent “permanence” in their efforts.

“We expect the cops to show up, but we are not afraid,” Hackbarth said.

Just under 30 tents were erected and occupied near the Northrop end of the Mall at 4 p.m. during Monday’s protest.

More than 160 faculty members signed a letter to Ettinger, Croson and Vice President of Student Affairs Calvin Phillips addressing their outrage toward the administration allowing “Police to intimidate, remove and arrest students who gathered in peaceful protest.”

The letter, drafted on Wednesday by members of Faculty, Librarians, Alumni, Graduate Students, and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FLAGS JP), also asks for “Senior administrators to meet with student protesters” to discuss demands through “authentic dialogue.”

University Interim President Jeff Ettinger reached out to leaders of several student groups Monday morning, offering to continue conversations around the Israel-Hamas war, according to an email statement from a University spokesperson. The statement adds that because Ettinger sent the invitations just hours before the protest, no meetings have been scheduled.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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  • thank you, students!
    May 2, 2024 at 1:34 am

    Student voices matter. Anyone who says otherwise is living a myth.

  • Michael Ogren
    May 1, 2024 at 8:09 pm

    Who cares what unhappy college students do A new thing in America is to set tents up to prove how stupid they are DON’T worry about wasting money democrats will transfer their debt to taxpayers who hate everything leftwing college stands for

  • noted
    May 1, 2024 at 3:54 pm

    the change in lead photo.

  • Thomas
    May 1, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    – Lol

    Say “ya’ll” a couple more times to signal your in group affiliation. It comes across really intelligently.

    “Y’all are so delicate!”
    People like you don’t belong in college. Hope that helps!

  • L Thompson
    May 1, 2024 at 10:47 am

    [RE: Colby Pitzenberger’s comment] It seems reactionary to bring up that the counter-protestor was Jewish, considering that the primary organization demonstrating against Zionism is the Twin Cities’ Jewish Voice for Peace. I am certain you don’t know the whole story. Protestors, as a group, were not responsible for the assault of one counter protestor. Someone who will be on the wrong side of history, with all due respect!

  • lol
    May 1, 2024 at 8:52 am

    Your finals schedule is interrupted but you don’t mind your tuition and tax dollars funding the bombing of universities, libraries and hospitals in Gaza? Good to know! You say activists are “annoying” and “losers”. Y’all are so delicate! Maybe it’s your first semester at college – protests are one of the most common things to see on college campuses. All y’all boo-hooing about it brings some much needed comic relief, please keep it up!

  • Paul Shambroom
    May 1, 2024 at 8:20 am

    How is it that the protests have not been the lead story in the Daily every day this week. These protests are part of a huge international story that is high on the front page of most papers in big cities around the country. The online story that is offered is way “below the fold” as we used to say in the print days) and shows a degree of bias in both the photo selection and content that largely repeats official University statements. I am a faculty member, and it saddens me to see this lost opportunity for our newspaper to step up to the occasion with deep and insightful reporting on an important story.

  • Roberto DeVet
    Apr 30, 2024 at 6:34 pm

    Back in the late 80’s we had Anti-Apartheid protest but no buildings were ever closed. Why is this different?

  • Thomas
    Apr 30, 2024 at 4:02 pm

    These losers comprise 99% of the most annoying people on campus.
    Once they’re gone and – ideally – expelled, maybe the university can go back to being a place for education – as opposed to a place for jump starting careers in activism.

  • really, really fed up now
    Apr 30, 2024 at 8:15 am

    Don’t you people have finals too? Or does attending a pro-terrorism protest qualify as a gender studies final? Y’all are a massive pain in the neck for those of us who actually have to study; congratulations, you’ve managed to shut down a whole lot of study space! We’d really appreciate it if you’d get out and at least wait for us serious people to get our finals over with. Really great job, people. I’m just so proud to be a student here.

    Absolute madlads with the Israeli flags. Glad not everyone here has lost their minds.

  • thank you, students!
    Apr 30, 2024 at 8:12 am

    I agree with Woods Hailey’s excellent points. We need clarity on who exactly is calling for escalation. From the current picture which centers the Israeli flag and the action and words of admin, it certainly doesn’t look or sound like the students want escalation. It sounds like the student want peace and accountability.

    Note to Ken DeYeo: May you be wrong about everything and may you be more responsible with your words next time you speak up.

  • Woods Halley
    Apr 29, 2024 at 8:53 pm

    If Colby Pitzenberger is referring in “This thread” to my comment just below his, then he hasn’t read my comment very carefully. I wrote
    “If a few demonstrators behave violently they need to be dealt with”

    My post was mainly about not trying to remove the tents and was
    not in any way intended to justify violent behavior.

    Woods Halley

  • Zach
    Apr 29, 2024 at 6:48 pm

    The cause of Palestinian liberation is the cause of human rights

  • Colby Pitzenberger
    Apr 29, 2024 at 5:35 pm

    This thread seems to ignore the assault against a Jewish counter protestor

  • Woods Halley
    Apr 29, 2024 at 5:20 pm

    As a faculty member I got a letter signed by Rachel Croson
    Executive Vice President, Provost Ken Horstman
    Vice President for Human Resources and Calvin Phillips
    Vice President for Student Affairs which included the following:
    “We urge everyone who engages to remain nonviolent, peaceful, and follow both state laws and University policies, including restrictions prohibiting tents and encampments on campus. ”
    Why are they prohibiting tents? What is violent about a tent?
    Forbidding tents seems like drawing a line which will certainly
    be crossed (and already has been) to justify bringing in police to remove them. Leave the tents alone. If a few demonstrators behave violently they need to be dealt with but tents are not a threat to anyone nor are they even much of an inconvenience to normal university operations.

    Some have evoked the events of May 1970 on the university campus
    in advocating various suppressive measures to deal with the current
    demonstrations. The violence in May 1970 (which I personally recall)
    was mainly initiated by the Minneapolis police department under the leadership of a right wing mayor. In the current situation it is
    unlikely to be repeated UNLESS the university administration decides to try to use its “no tents” rule to “clear out” the demonstrators.

    Woods Halley
    physics department

  • Ken DeYoe
    Apr 29, 2024 at 4:12 pm

    Sorry to say but this is all for naught. Even if every institution divested from any business associated with either Israel or Palestine, the war will continue.

  • henry
    Apr 29, 2024 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting that the 4 Zionist counter-protestors are featured in the article instead of the masses of people in support of Gazan peace.

  • August Berkshire
    Apr 29, 2024 at 3:24 pm

    Unless the protesters have a “Free the Hostages” sign too, then it’s a rather one-sided protest regarding human rights.

  • haley
    Apr 29, 2024 at 2:47 pm

    The whole point of the Palestinian encampments happening for Palestinian HUMAN RIGHTS is that you’re not supposed to feature Israeli flags at the forefront of the news story smh!

  • Past Waltz vote
    Apr 29, 2024 at 2:36 pm

    Where is Waltz? Missing in action just like back with the George Floyd Riots (whoops, peaceful protests). Afraid to stand up and safe guard the citizens of this great state. Fold and change our flag, he opened a door he cannot close.