Pro-Palestinian protestors remain on UC Merced campus for Board of Regents meeting

Vince Ybarra Image
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Pro-Palestinian protestors remain on UC Merced campus for Board of Regents meeting
Pro-Palestinian protesters remain on campus at UC Merced to make their voices heard during a UC Board of Regents meeting on Tuesday.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Pro-Palestinian protesters remained on campus at UC Merced to make their voices heard as the UC Board of Regents met on Tuesday.

An encampment of demonstrators has been set up at the university since Sunday, adding to the growing list of colleges nationwide protesting in response to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Tuesday marked the first day of a three-day meeting for the UC Board of Regents on campus.

The board spent the day discussing investments and how they are planning to maintain funds long term.

Funding is a concern for UC Merced students who attended the meeting.

"The UC uses our taxes to fund companies that support Israel's operations. Corporations and billionaires, profiting from hard working students and our families in the US, are also funding this genocide," said one UC Merced student.

On Sunday, a group of students gathered at the top of a hill on campus to protest.

"We are asking to end the silence. We want to call for a ceasefire. A recognition of the genocide in Gaza. We want a divestment in the Israeli occupation, reinvestment into student programs, student fellowships," said protester Nooruline Irshad.

In addition, they are asking for transparency of investments from the UC Board of Regents.

The board says it has a financial responsibility to care for the assets of hundreds of thousands of employees.

"We are here to serve our community and part of that service is listening and engaging. And we live that in the way act and operate," said one member of the UC Board of Regents.

Board members say divesting is a complex issue, adding that if they do what is suggested by the student demonstrators, they would need to sell $32 billion of assets from the board's investment portfolio.

Before the meeting, counter protester Lonnie Fahl made his way on campus.

He says he took the day off of work to demonstrate.

"We wouldn't have these opportunities if it wasn't for this great country. We wouldn't have liberated zones if it wasn't for the people that fought and died for this country," said Fahl.

Fahl circled around the encampment for roughly 20 minutes before leaving.

Both Fahl and the student demonstrators say they want to maintain peace.

As the UC Board of Regents continue to meet this week and the encampment stays on campus, the Merced County Sheriff's Office says Lake Yosemite will remain closed as a safety precaution for protesters and residents in the area.

It's unknown when the park will reopen.

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