Classes go online at UC Irvine after protesters arrested on campus

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Classes go online at UC Irvine after protesters arrested on campus

The University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), will only hold online classes on Thursday after 50 people were arrested during police crackdown on a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at the university on Wednesday evening, reported Xinhua.

"Instruction on Thursday, May 16, will be conducted remotely. All employees, unless otherwise specified, should also work from home," said UC Irvine, one of the ten campuses of the University of California system, in an emergency update.

The university confirmed that "50 individuals who were on campus and disrupting university operations in violation of university policy and state laws were arrested and cited for violations including failure to disperse and trespassing."

"We are not able to confirm the affiliation for any of those arrested at this time," it added.

The decision to go remote came after the clearance of a Gaza solidarity encampment on the university's Southern California campus Wednesday evening. The encampment was set up more than two weeks ago as pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been spreading at colleges and universities across the United States amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

UC Irvine said a group of several hundred protesters entered its campus and began surrounding the university's physical sciences lecture hall on Wednesday afternoon.

The university said it put out a call for mutual aid to local law enforcement agencies and has received on-site assistance from the Irvine Police Department and Orange County Sheriff's department as protesters swarmed the campus joining a group of protesters who had established an encampment on the campus.

In a letter to campus community later in the day, UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman said "What a sad day for our university. I'm brokenhearted."

Gillman stated that "For the last two weeks, I have consistently communicated that the encampment violated our policies but that the actions did not rise to the level requiring police intervention."

"But my concern now is not the unreasonableness of their demands. It is their decision to transform a manageable situation that did not have to involve police into a situation that required a different response," he added.

"It's a shame that peaceful free speech protests are always responded to with violence. Taking space on campus or in a building is not a threat to anyone," Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan said Wednesday afternoon on social media platform X.

"UCI leadership must do everything they can to avoid creating a violent scenario here. These are your students w/ zero weapons," she noted.

Meanwhile, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said on X that "I value the right to peacefully protest. However, we cannot enable the recent escalations which include the disruption of classes and vandalization of campus property."

"I reached out to the chancellor to encourage the administration practice restraint, peacefully disperse the protesters, and subsequently re-engage in negotiations with our students," she said.

Pro-Palestinian protests have spread across campuses of the University of California. The public university system has more than 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff.

Over 200 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested on May 2 as police moved to dismantle an encampment at UC Los Angeles, and more than 60 protesters were arrested last week by police at UC San Diego. UC Riverside announced earlier this month that school officials reached a peaceful agreement with protesters at the university to end the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

United Auto Workers Local 4811, the union of 48,000 academic workers at the University of California, said on Wednesday its members "have voted by a super majority to authorize a strike."

"At the heart of this strike authorization vote is our right to free speech and to peaceful protest without fear of intimidation and reprisal by our very own university," said the union in a post on X.

More than 900 members of University of California faculty and staff have been calling on Gene Block, chancellor of UC Los Angeles, to resign over the university's response to pro-Palestinian protests on campus, according to an online petition created on May 6.


  1. EmilySmith says

    It is unacceptable that the university chose to go remote and conduct classes online after the protesters were arrested. The freedom to protest is a fundamental right, and the administration should have found a peaceful resolution instead of resorting to police crackdowns.

  2. JennaSmith says

    It’s unfortunate that the situation escalated to this point. I believe peaceful protests are an important way for individuals to express their solidarity and concerns, but it’s also crucial to respect the rules and policies of the university to ensure a safe and productive learning environment for everyone.

  3. Emily_1995 says

    As a student, I believe that it’s important for universities to provide safe spaces for peaceful protests. It’s concerning to see arrests being made during a demonstration. Remote classes are a good temporary solution, but dialogue and understanding are crucial to address the root causes of tensions.

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