Police Arrest M.I.T. Protesters After Suspensions Ramp Up Tension

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The police early on Friday entered a pro-Palestinian encampment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and arrested about a dozen demonstrators, in what appeared to be an effort to clear the area after days of tensions.

Around 4 a.m., officers gave a 15-minute warning for demonstrators to leave before making arrests and loading people into police vehicles. The arrests, which came as about a dozen other protesters chanted from a nearby sidewalk, appeared largely peaceful.

The Massachusetts State Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment or confirm the number of people arrested.

The move came after several protesters at the Cambridge, Mass., campus were arrested on Thursday after blocking access to a parking garage.

The university had set a Monday deadline for protesters to vacate the encampment or face suspension, and tensions have been rising after some students who had defied the deadline received notices of suspension from the university.

Administrators would not say how many students had been suspended.

“This means you will be prohibited from participating in any academic activities — including classes, exams or research — for the remainder of the semester,” said a letter received by one student and viewed by a reporter. “You will also be prohibited from participating in commencement activities or any cocurricular or extracurricular activities.”

The university had detailed the consequences of suspension in a letter to student protesters before the Monday deadline, making clear that those who had previously been disciplined “related to events since Oct. 7” would also be barred from university housing and dining halls.

As an additional condition of suspension, some students also lost their eligibility to be employed by the university, a penalty that cut off the income of graduate student employees who were suspended.

“I don’t know what comes next,” said Prahlad Iyengar, a first-year graduate student who said he had lost his income and housing as a result of his suspension. “I have friends and a community, and I can find a place, but there are people affected who are housing- and food-insecure, some with children.”

M.I.T.’s president, Sally Kornbluth, was one of three university leaders who were harshly criticized last year over their testimony in a congressional hearing about campus antisemitism. The other two, Claudine Gay of Harvard and Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania, resigned in the fallout.

Although Ms. Kornbluth did not face the same level of criticism, hundreds of M.I.T. alumni signed a letter calling for the university to take stronger actions to combat campus antisemitism.

In a letter to the campus on Monday, Ms. Kornbluth wrote: “This prolonged use of M.I.T. property as a venue for protest, without permission, especially on an issue with such sharp disagreement, is no longer safely sustainable.”



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