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Student protesters vote to leave prior to university deadline

<p>The remaining students packed up their belongings and left the area before hitting the university&#x27;s 9 p.m. deadline.</p>

The remaining students packed up their belongings and left the area before hitting the university's 9 p.m. deadline.

Student demonstrators at Miami University voted to end their encampment at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 4, two hours before the 9 p.m. deadline given to them by university administrators.

The encampment started Thursday, May 2, at around 7 p.m. and was initiated by Miami’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Young Democratic Socialists of America. By Saturday evening, 29 students remained.

University administrators told the group they had to clear out before 9 p.m., or their organizations would be summarily suspended for violating the university property policy.

The protesters opted to decide their next steps through a majority vote. After deliberating for about a half hour, the group voted to leave the encampment with 24 votes in favor. 

Maysa Constandinidis, president of Miami’s SJP, said the group ultimately determined that the suspension of their organizations would make future advocacy work much harder.

“You don’t need an organization to advocate, you just need a group of people to do work … We could still do what we’re doing, it’d just be a lot harder and a lot more painful and have a lot more risks,” Constandinidis said. “It was just really not worth it in this moment of time to do the suspension.”

In addition to concerns about their organizations being suspended, another factor was the uncertainty of whether there would be consequences for individuals participating. Constandinidis said the university was unclear about whether there’d be arrests or student suspensions should the encampment continue.

Constandinidis said she feels the demonstration was successful despite the setbacks.

“We’ve built a community,” Constandinidis said. “[The university] thinks this is the end but it’s just the beginning. We’re going to keep coming back and come back stronger every time. We might be leaving now, but this isn’t the end of us at all.”

The students began packing and cleaning up the encampment site at around 7 p.m. and all left by about 8:30 p.m.

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