Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College among nationwide surge in student protest arrests

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An Emerson College Police car.

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a larger series surrounding the March 22 arrests. If you feel you or someone you know could be a valuable source for our continued coverage of this incident, please contact [email protected]

On March 22, 13 students were arrested outside the inauguration of Emerson College’s 13th president, Jay Bernhardt. 

While this incident has been a jarring one for our school community, it is just one of many instances of students being arrested while holding protests on their college campuses, especially pro-Palestine ones. 

Among the campus arrests that have been made since Oct. 7, many have occurred at student-led sit-ins or walkouts demanding specific actions from their universities, such as demanding a ceasefire and divesting from Israel. In addition, many of the demonstrations have come in response to what student organizers describe as administrative suppression of free speech.

The following list provides reports of several similar arrests across colleges and universities nationwide. As this is a brief overview, readers are highly encouraged to click the links provided and read the full reports of each incident. 

19 students arrested at Pomona College – April 5, 2024 

On April 5, 20 students were arrested while protesting the removal of pro-Palestine protest art on their Pomona College campus. 

The protest started peacefully and escalated when the students “stormed and occupied” the president’s office, according to the Los Angeles Times. Similar to the arrests at Emerson, many arrested students were people of color. 

Since then, the students have been suspended and have had all access to campus revoked. 

To read the full story in the Los Angeles Times, click here

Four students, one reporter arrested at Vanderbilt University –  March 26, 2024 

Students from Vanderbilt University hosted a sit-in at Chancellor Daniel Diermeir’s office on March 26, leading to the arrests of four students and one reporter. 

The sit-in was held to protest the removal of an amendment to the Vanderbilt Student Government Constitution from the student ballot. The amendment, which received over 600 signatures, would have prevented student government funds from going to businesses that support Israel. 

At around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, over two dozen students entered the Kirkland Hall administration building while over 30 students occupied the steps outside. Twenty-two hours later, the Vanderbilt University Police escorted the students out of the chancellor’s office, issuing interim suspensions to all and arresting four—three for “assault and bodily injury to another” and one for “breaking a window,” according to The Tennessean. A local reporter was also arrested for trespassing, according to his first-hand account in the Nashville Scene. 

To read the full stories on The Tennessean and the Nashville Scene, respectively, click here and here

41 students arrested at Brown University – December 11, 2023 

Pro-Palestine Brown University students walked out on Dec. 11 “to demand divestment from ‘Israeli military occupation’ and call for a ceasefire,” according to The Brown Daily Herald

After students failed to comply with the University Hall’s 5 p.m. close, the Providence Police Department and Brown Department of Public Safety officers arrested all 41 students present at the walkout, charging them with trespassing. 

Following the start of the arrests, over 400 students gathered to support protesters as they were released. 

According to the Brown Daily Herald, a Brown University spokesperson said the “disruption to secure buildings is not acceptable,” and Brown is “prepared to escalate the level of criminal charges for future incidents.” 

To read the full story on The Brown Daily Herald, click here

40 arrested at University of Michigan Ann Arbor – November 17, 2023

A University of Michigan pro-Palestinian sit-in with an estimated 200 community members on Nov. 17 resulted in 40 student arrests. According to University of Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald, local police said there were two injuries. The students were issued trespassing citations and released. 

The protest was organized by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), a Palestinian solidarity organization, and the SJP chapter at the university, over the administration’s lack of response to previous calls for the university to divest from Israel, according to The Michigan Daily. A university spokesperson said the protesters gained access to the building, which was locked. 

Student organizers said arrested students are banned from the Alexander G. Ruthven Building, where the sit-in occurred, according to the Detroit Free Press.

According to The Michigan Daily, the majority of protesters began leaving the building after the police issued a dispersal warning at 7:30 p.m. At that time, police announced that anyone who had not left the building within 10 minutes would be arrested.  

On Nov. 18, the university’s chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace and SAFE, along with 53 other campus organizations, responded to the arrests with a joint statement criticizing the university’s President Santa Ono for refusing to meet with demonstrators about their demands.

To read the full story on The Michigan Daily and the Detroit Free Press, respectively, click here and here.

Seven protesters arrested at Brandeis University – November 10, 2023 

Nearly 100 people gathered in front of the Brandeis University Shapiro Campus Center in the heart of campus on Nov. 23 to protest the university’s continued support of Israel and the derecognition of the Brandeis SJP chapter. Seven protesters were arrested, three of whom were students and four unaffiliated with the Brandeis community, after Waltham police said they ignored orders to leave after the campus demonstration became “unruly,” according to CBS News Boston

Brandeis said that the protesters were using threatening statements and had been asked to disperse four times before police stepped in. 

Charges against those arrested include assault and battery on a police officer, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct, according to Waltham police. All seven who were arrested appeared in court on Nov. 13 and pleaded not guilty.

On that same day, nearly 200 students walked out of classes to gather for a silent sit-in in response to the arrests, according to The Justice, Brandeis’ student-run newspaper. 

Days before the rally, Brandeis announced that it would no longer support the university’s SJP chapter because the group “openly supports Hamas,” according to The Justice. NBC10 Boston reported the group’s funding was taken away from the university as well as their permits to hold activities on campus. 

To read the full story in CBS News Boston and The Justice, respectively, click here and here

26 students, two faculty members arrested at the University of Chicago – November 9, 2023

On Nov. 9, 26 students and two faculty members from the University of Chicago were arrested during a UChicago United for Palestine (UCUP) sit-in inside the campus’ Rosenwald Hall. Of the 26 students, 18 were undergraduates and eight were graduate students. The two faculty members were professors, according to The Chicago Maroon, UChicago’s student-run newspaper. 

Those who were arrested were charged with a “criminal trespass to real property,” a Class B misdemeanor under Illinois state law. Nearly 250 took part in the protest.

In December, prosecutors from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all charges that were originally brought by UChicago and escalated to the state level, according to The Chicago Maroon. Despite prosecutors declining to pursue charges, the arrested protesters, as of December, still faced legal processes to have their records expunged and a litany of university disciplinary charges. The university also required arrested protesters to attend disciplinary hearings during finals week.

To read the full story on The Chicago Maroon, click here.

56 students, one employee arrested at UMass Amherst – October 25, 2023 

In an Oct. 25 sit-in, UMass Amherst students gathered at the Whitmore Administration Building to demand the college “condemn the Israel Defense Forces’ attacks on Gaza and cut the university’s ties with defense contractor Raytheon Technology,” according to WBUR.  

During the demonstration, 56 students and one employee were arrested for staying in the building after hours. 

To read the full story on WBUR, click here

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About the Contributors
Sophia Pargas
Sophia Pargas, Editor-in-Chief
Sophia Pargas (she/her) is a senior Journalism and Marketing Communications double major from Miami, Florida. She has served on the Beacon since her sophomore year, using it as an opportunity to grow professionally and cover the things that matter to her—personal narratives, culture, ethics, arts, and much more. Outside of the paper, Sophia is a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi, an Engagement Lab student fellow, and has held several journalism and marketing internships at NBCUniversal, NBC South Florida, NBC Boston, and WCVB. To learn more about Sophia, her passions, and her experience, visit her personal portfolio "The SCP Journal." 
Olivia LeDuc
Olivia LeDuc, News Editor
Olivia LeDuc (she/her) is a journalism student and assistant editor for the campus coverage of The Beacon’s news section. When she’s not reporting, you can find her crocheting or going on yet another long walk in the city.

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