Photo by Kamal Moon

Students spent 15 days at the “Falasteen Lawn” encampment before the University of Milwaukee – Wisconsin administration came to an agreement regarding the demands of  the newly formed UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition. 

Statement issued on May 13, 2024 by the UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition

Dear UWM students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the greater community, 

Today is the fourteenth day of the encampment started on Mitchell Hall lawn by the UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition. This encampment was launched to urge UW-Milwaukee to end its complicity in Israel’s ongoing genocide and occupation of Gaza and Palestine. Additionally, we sought to spread awareness and educate our campus about the horrific oppression and violence Israel has inflicted on Palestinians for over 75 years. 

Our university encampment, “Falasteen Lawn”, has been a vital tool in pressuring UWM to cut any and all ties with the occupying, oppressive, settler-colonial regime of Israel. Over the past year, student organizations have made numerous attempts to have these demands addressed through traditional and diplomatic avenues. The UWM administration was unable to provide any concrete action and maintained a stance that there was nothing more they could do. 

We are proud to announce that today, Sunday May 12th, as a result of our willingness to stand up for the human rights of the innocent people of Gaza and our determination to challenge any complicity with Israel’s occupation, ethnic cleansing and genocide, we have come to an agreement with the university regarding our demands. We want to emphasize that, despite efforts by individuals and groups inside and outside the university to denigrate us and to silence our voices, we stood firm. We have felt empowered by the brave people of Gaza, by national student movements across the United States and the world and by the support of our community. 

Photo by Kamal Moon

Throughout our meetings and negotiations with the UWM administration, we remained committed to our demands that were not meant for our personal benefit, but for the suffering people of Gaza. We engaged in countless email communications and lengthy meetings with the administration, always emphasizing the reasonableness and importance of accepting our demands in their entirety. 

After hard fought edits and careful consideration by the coalition, we determined that we had obtained all possible benefits from our encampment. This does not mean that we have ended our struggle. In fact, we now call on all our allies and community members to join us in our ongoing efforts of negotiating with the UWM administration and the UWM Foundation. For the benefit of the people of Gaza and Palestine, we strongly believe in the need to divest from the Israeli regime, and we believe that many of our efforts will be directed at the UWM Foundation. We will not stop applying pressure and we refuse to back down until we are granted complete disclosure and divestment. 

Photo by Mouna Photography

Below is a breakdown of the agreement reached with the university: 

  1. UWM, in an official and public statement, will not only call for a ceasefire, but will explicitly call out Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Additionally, UWM will condemn the scholasticide, specifically Israel’s military assault on Gaza, the deliberate targeting of students, teachers, professors, educational facilities, libraries, mosques, churches, and more. UWM will cite the International Criminal Court in their findings of plausible genocide in Gaza. 
  1. The Water Council, in which Chancellor Mone sits on as Treasurer, has officially ceased relationships and cut all ties with both Mekorot and Israel Innovation Authority, two Israeli-government-owned water companies. UWM will acknowledge that both companies are accused by international aid organizations, including Amnesty International, of cutting off access to drinking water for thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, exacerbating water scarcity. Additionally, despite past relationships, both companies have been removed from the Water Council website. 
  2. UWM has repeatedly separated itself from the UWM Foundation, which is the entity responsible for disclosure and divestment. It should be noted that the Foundation operates solely for the benefit of the UWM and its staff and students. UWM has agreed to support students in expressing their requests for disclosure and divestment to the UWM Foundation. The university administration’s first step in this support is to facilitate a meeting between student representatives and the UWM Foundation within a 48 hour window of the agreement, which has been confirmed for Tuesday, May 14. We recognize that divestment is not an overnight process; however, our coalition will now turn its attention and focus to the Foundation in pursuit of divestment. We expect to come out of this first meeting with an agreed upon timeline for disclosure.

Updates will be provided and appropriate action will be taken by the coalition and with support of the community. 


Photo by Kamal Moon 

  1. We have confirmed that UWM does not have any active study abroad programs in Israel, and no contract with any Israeli university has been utilized since 2018. After sharing a plethora of evidence with the university about discriminatory and racist policies of Israel and after providing credible and flagrant examples of discriminatory Israeli policies, UWM will begin a thorough review of its Discriminatory Conduct Policy for all study abroad programs before moving forward with future trips. We are confident that this review process will effectively end all future study abroad trips to the apartheid state of Israel. 
  2. With regards to cutting ties with companies that do business with Israel, the university has invoked Wisconsin Statue Section 20.931, an unconstitutional law enacted by the pro-Israel community with the sole purpose of protecting the extremist Israeli regime. The law was passed in the State of Wisconsin during the tenure of Governor Scott Walker. We are focused on exploring all avenues of legislative and judicial pressure or litigation to change this law and revisit this issue. When this law is changed either through legislation or by the court system due to its unconstitutionality, our focus will immediately turn back to UWM. 
  3. UWM has repeatedly stated that this encampment is in violation of state law as well as the student code of conduct. While threatening disciplinary action multiple times throughout this process, the Chancellor and the Provost have agreed to forgo relevant citations and conduct violations for the students involved in the encampment since the purpose of the encampment was related to student protest of Israel’s genocide. 

Photo by Kamal Moon

The Popular UWM university encampment, Falasteen Lawn, has been a phenomenal and historic step in the movement for ending complicity with an occupying and genocidal regime and working for a free Palestine. The encampment included student, anti-war, labor, and national liberation movements converging for a common cause. Our struggles are connected, and the Popular University for Palestine was the manifestation of this fact. The encampment was the first phase in our efforts. We will continue to communicate and negotiate with the university administration, with the UWM-Foundation and other stakeholders. We are determined to make sure UWM, our university, thrives educationally and financially based on moral and ethical programs, policies and investments. 

To close, we want to acknowledge that Falasteen Lawn was a student protest, an emotional outlet for our grief and a labor of love. Throughout its existence, Israel has always sought to violently silence and censor the people of Gaza and the Palestinian people in general. Our goal was to be the voice of the people of Gaza and the conscience of our campus community. We wanted to be a voice for the over fifteen thousand Palestinian children who have been slaughtered by Israel. We wanted to be a voice for the thousands of murdered university students, professors, researchers and instructors. We wanted to be a voice standing up for humanity and human decency. The trauma that Israel and the local supporters of its genocidal war have inflicted on many of our students and their families is beyond comprehension. 


Photo by Kamal Moon

We believe that our encampment was successful due to the coordinated efforts of an entire community composed of many religions, races and ethnicities. We are eternally grateful to the various community organizations, community members and local businesses that helped us maintain our encampment for two weeks. We thank our committed security team for keeping our encampment safe from outside extremists 24/7. We thank our supplies team for coordinating donations to keep our encampers warm and well-fed. We thank our community members who provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every single day for two weeks, without a single penny spent by students. We thank our logistics team for organizing programming for each day of our encampment. Our programming was amazing. Befitting a university setting, many of our programs were teach-ins about Gaza, Palestine and other parts of the world; about politics and race; about our diverse religious traditions, including Islam and Judaism; and so much more. We also want to thank our media and communications team for developing flyers, social media posts, and press releases. 

This movement began with a few tents and ended as a robust family of people of many backgrounds and traditions united in the belief that we are all equal before God, that any regime based on ethno-religious supremacy and violence must not be supported or enabled, and that our schools and institutions must reflect moral and ethical values that recognize the humanity of all. 

The Popular University for Palestine encampment was a space created by the community, for the community. Falasteen Lawn shows that we can all make a difference. We will continue to fight until the people of Gaza are free and all oppressed people are free. Peace be upon the people of Gaza. Peace be upon the martyrs. Peace be upon the people of Palestine.

Photo by Kamal Moon