Why have tents been pitched outside Oxford University?

ITV News Meridian's Kara Digby reports on the student encampment at the University of Oxford

Tents have popped up outside University of Oxford's campus in what's been described as the 'liberated zone'.

Students camped overnight in the shadow of the Museum of Natural History after setting up base on Monday.

The pupils are calling on the University to cut financial ties with Israel in relation to the ongoing war.

Some of their demands include disclosing the university's finances, investing in rebuilding educational institutions destroyed in Gaza, and to boycott the ongoing conflict.

One of those in the encampment is Kendall Gardener from Oxford Action for Palestine.

She said, "it's very important that universities, as producers of knowledge, a place where rhetoric and narrative are established, are places where students can come together for education and not for complicity in international war."

"I'm Jewish myself and it has mostly been my Muslim, Arab and Palestinian comrades who have talked to me about why my identity is so important, about how welcome I am as a Jewish person in this space.

"I would say to other Jewish students that you are more than welcome to come at any time and I'd be happy to talk to you about what it means to be a Jewish person in this movement."

The tents were pitched on Monday Credit: ITV Meridian

Another student calling for action is Carina, who didn't want to give her surname, she said,

"We have tried to engage in peaceful negotiations - trying to meet with management time and time again - and yet we have no heard from them in a productive manner.

"So this is almost our last resort in terms of how we can make our voices heard. The encampment is one of the most peaceful and non-violent ways that we can make our voices heard to management."

There is concern the demonstration will lead to the vilification of Jewish students in Oxford.

The Oxford Jewish Society said, "Since the attacks in Israel on October 7th, Jewish students across Oxford are facing a wave of intimidation and harassment.

"This includes protest chants and signs which violate the University’s commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliances’ definition of antisemitism.

"Now, with the encampment seeking to mimic what has been seen across United States campuses, we are deeply concerned that there will be further escalation in the vilification of Jewish students in Oxford.

"We maintain that Jewish students deserve to have our concerns taken seriously and in earnest, we call upon the University to act upon any endorsement, justification or glorification of violence against Jews anywhere.

"We remain committed to respond to any incidents of antisemitism and are here to support Jewish students."

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An Oxford University spokesperson said:

"We are aware of the ongoing demonstration by members of our University community. We respect our students and staff members right to freedom of expression in the form of peaceful protests.

"We ask everyone who is taking part to do so with respect, courtesy and empathy. Oxford University’s primary focus is the health and safety of the University community, and to ensure any impact on work, research and learning, including student exams, is minimised. As we have stressed in our student and staff communications there is no place for intolerance at the University of Oxford.

"The Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum remain open.”

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