Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Across UW System, administrators’ responses to pro-Palestine protests differ

Negotiations with administrators, presence of law enforcement varies at UW-Madison, UW–Milwaukee, UW–Eau Claire
Paige Valley
Students and community members rallying at Library Mall on April 29, 2024.

Over the past two weeks, students within the University of Wisconsin System joined a national wave of student demonstrations in support of Palestine. At UW–Madison and UW–Milwaukee, encampments were built April 29, and students at UW–Eau Claire held a pro-Palestine protest May 3.

All campuses are subject to Chapter 18 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, which specifically defines and prohibits camping on university property. The responses to encampments by administrators have varied at each campus.



Shortly after protesters erected tents in the heart of the UW–Madison campus April 29, organizers from Students for Justice in Palestine UW–Madison presented a list of demands to administrators. Throughout the first day of the demonstration, campus leaders were present, speaking to organizers and making an effort to initiate negotiations.

On the third day of the encampment demonstration at UW–Madison, over 50 law enforcement officers from UW–Madison Police Department, the Madison Police Department, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin State Patrol removed tents from Library Mall, according to previous reporting by The Badger Herald.

The presence of law enforcement at the site of the encampment resulted in 34 arrests, including the arrest of students and faculty members. Of those arrested, four individuals were booked into the Dane County Jail.

Later that day, UW–Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin said in a statement that she authorized law enforcement’s removal of tents on campus.  

“Over the last few days, we have repeatedly asked the protesters to bring their demonstration into conformity with the law that prohibits camping on UW grounds,” Mnookin said in the statement. “They declined to do so.”

UW System President Jay Rothman supported Mnookin’s decision to call for law enforcement against protesters, according to a May 1 statement

“UW-Madison took action to ensure compliance with applicable law and in fulfillment of its commitment to all students and the campus community,” Rothman said in the statement. “I commend Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin for her reasonableness and resolve, as well as her commitment to free expression and the safety and security of her students.”

But in the hours that followed law enforcement intervention at the site of the encampment, demonstrators erected new tents, and the number of protesters grew. Negotiations between protest organizers and campus administrators began, and on the twelfth day of the encampment, the groups reached an agreement.

The encampment at UW–Madison was removed May 10.


At UW–Milwaukee, protesters sent a list of demands to Dean of Students Adam Jussel April 29. The demands emphasized disclosure of financial statements, and the divestment from companies that fund the state of Israel.

UW–Milwaukee student and news editor at the UWM Post Haley Wichman said the encampment demonstration started off small, with 10 tents. Now, Wichman said there are at least 20 tents at the site of the encampment.

Faculty and community members have supported student protesters at UW–Milwaukee, and a small number of law enforcement officers from the Milwaukee Police Department have been monitoring the protest, Wichman said. Wichman emphasized officers have not taken any action against protesters, and that as the demonstration continues to grow, it remains peaceful.

“It’s only grown since last week,” Wichman said. “It has been, compared to other universities, peaceful.”

At the time this article was published, protest leaders at UW–Milwaukee have not yet reached an agreement with the university, Wichman said.

UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said in a May 8 statement the university will only take police action in the event of a public safety concern or emergency. But Mone made clear the encampment must end soon.

“If the encampment doesn’t end soon, UWM will have to take action to ensure that it does,” Mone said in his statement.

UW–Eau Claire

An encampment was not built at UW–Eau Claire, but a group of students also presented a list of demands to Chancellor James Schmidt, asking the university to divest from companies they deem complicit in the violence of the war, UW–Eau Claire student and managing editor at The Spectator Toby Mohr said.

Around 50 students were present at the May 3 demonstration — in contrast to the hundreds of UW–Madison protestors present on their first day of the encampment, Mohr said. In addition, UW–Eau Claire’s organized protest only lasted about an hour, Mohr said.

“They [protesters] had a rally where they gave speeches, and then they did a march around campus,” Mohr said. “There haven’t been any organized counter-protesters — at least that we’re aware of right now.”

At the demonstration, there was little law enforcement presence. But Mohr said his campus was prepared in case violence ensued, but he noted that the protest was solely peaceful. The group has not yet reached an agreement with UW–Eau Claire administrators.

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