University of Melbourne threatens expulsion on pro-Palestine student protesters

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An Australian university has delivered an ultimatum for pro-Palestine protesters occupying one of their buildings to pack up and leave, or face copping the bill for damages and police intervention.

Staff at the University of Melbourne have formally demanded the sit-in protesters, who have taken over a large building at the Parkville campus, stop their protest amid complaints of classes being disrupted.

In a letter to the encampment, the university’s vice chancellor warns of police intervention and expulsion if they do not vacate.

More than 6000 students have had classes disrupted since the group began protesting nearly four weeks ago.

The student group Unimelb for Palestine have been leading the protest, calling for the university to cut ties with weapons manufacturers; the university says it has worked with Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon on non-weapons related research, and says all projects comply with ethics, integrity and Defence rules and codes.

Protesters moved into the Arts West building last week and have vowed not to leave, leading to condemnation from university staff.

This move has led to the university issuing formal warnings on Monday.

A letter “authorised” by the vice-chancellor says emergency exits, fire panels and firefighting equipment are obstructed or damaged.

“The University directs all persons occupying the Arts West building to leave the University’s grounds and remove all personal property from the building,” it says in the letter, which was taped to walls at the university on Monday.

“Any person who contravenes this direction will be trespassing on University grounds and may be referred to Victoria Police.”

Students who do not comply could have their enrolment terminated or sanctioned in other ways, and be required to pay costs to repair damages, the letter warns.

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