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Bard College Administrators and SJP Members Reach Agreement to End Administration Building Occupation

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Bard College administrators and members of the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have successfully negotiated an agreement that ended a weekend-long occupation of the college's main administration building. The occupation, which began on Friday, was the culmination of weeks of demonstrations on campus over the Israel-Gaza war and related university investment policies.

Bard College Administrators and SJP Members Reach Agreement to End Administration Building Occupation

(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Daderot)

The Occupation and Its Demands

The occupation of Ludlow Hall, Bard College's main administration building, began as an escalation of protests that had been ongoing for several weeks. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) initiated the occupation to expedite negotiations regarding the university's investment processes and its stance on political and social issues, specifically related to the Israel-Gaza conflict. The students demanded greater transparency in the college's investments and a commitment to challenge policies perceived as suppressing free speech and supporting unjust practices.

According to The Times Union, the students' primary demands included the college's commitment to challenge Executive Order 157, which bans investments in institutions or companies that boycott Israel. They also sought broader reforms, including full disclosure of the nature and structure of Bard's endowment for the 2024-2025 academic year, and the establishment of ethical investment guidelines.

READ MORE: Bard College Prioritizes Academic Freedom Despite Pressure From Israeli Diplomat 

Negotiations and Agreement

After 19 hours of intense negotiations, which began on Friday and extended late into Sunday night, an agreement was reached. Both students and administrators were reported to have acted in good faith throughout the negotiations. A representative from Bard SJP, who was part of the negotiation team, confirmed that Bard officials agreed to meet their demands, prompting the students to vacate Ludlow Hall peacefully.

The finalized agreement, as reported by The Times Union, includes Bard College's commitment to support challenges-political, social, and legal-to Executive Order 157. Furthermore, the college agreed to challenge other legislation and executive orders that limit free speech. This commitment extends to dedicating intellectual, moral, and, where appropriate, financial resources to these efforts.

In addition to addressing the political aspects of the students' demands, Bard College has agreed to provide full disclosure related to the nature and structure of its endowment. This transparency will include information on current investments as well as the timeline for and structure of future investments.

Moving Forward with Ethical Investment Guidelines

A significant outcome of the agreement is the establishment of an elected cross-campus committee. This committee will comprise students, faculty, staff, and administrators, and its primary responsibility will be to develop written ethical investment guidelines for Bard College's responsible fiduciaries. This move is intended to ensure that the college's investment practices align with the ethical standards and values of the Bard community.

Bard spokesman Mark Primoff expressed satisfaction with the resolution, stating, "We are glad this ended peacefully and amicably." The formation of the cross-campus committee represents a step towards greater inclusivity and accountability in the college's decision-making processes, particularly concerning financial investments and ethical considerations.

The peaceful resolution of the occupation and the commitments made by Bard College highlight the potential for constructive dialogue and collaboration between students and administration. It underscores the importance of addressing student concerns through formal negotiations and the willingness of educational institutions to adapt and respond to the evolving demands of their communities.

The agreement between Bard College administrators and Students for Justice in Palestine marks a significant step forward in addressing the complex issues surrounding investment policies and free speech on campus. The peaceful end to the occupation and the establishment of new guidelines and transparency measures reflect a collaborative approach to resolving conflicts and ensuring that the college's values are upheld in its financial and administrative practices. This resolution serves as an example of how student activism and institutional response can lead to meaningful change and progress within the academic community.

RELATED ARTICLE: Students For Justice In Palestine Chapter At American University Placed On Probation Following Silent Protest 

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