Occupation courtyard University Library ended

On Tuesday afternoon, May 7, pro-Palestine demonstrators occupied the courtyard of Utrecht University Library. Anton Pijpers, the President of the Executive Board, was on site and offered several times to meet with a delegation of the group of demonstrators. This offer was refused multiple times. Later in the evening, barricades were erected and the atmosphere became more grim. The demonstration was terminated by the police around 00:30 because of growing security risks.

"This feels like a disappointment. We would have preferred that the demonstration - for which we provided space - had ended without police deployment" says Anton Pijpers. "There was a large and growing group of protesters in the courtyard. Partly because our house rules were not followed, serious safety concerns arose. Our offer to meet with a delegation of protestors, and calls to leave the courtyard, were unfortunately ignored multiple times. After intensive consultation with police and the municipality, we had to ask the police to end the occupation on the library grounds."

Due to clean-up and repair work, the library courtyard will remain closed on Wednesday, May 8. The library will be open as usual and is accessible through the main entrance.

The Executive Board hears and reads the concerns of students and staff about the current situation in Israel and Gaza on a daily basis. As a university, we share these concerns and feelings of sadness, bewilderment and helplessness about the violence resulting from this conflict. We sympathize with everyone affected by this conflict, from whatever side. We hope that this conflict ends as soon as possible.

Demonstrating and protesting are part of our democracy, and therefore part of life at Utrecht University. We offer space for this, provided it is done respectfully and according to our house rules (pdf, 131 kB). That was not the case yesterday.

Partly for this reason, we make an urgent appeal to our entire community once again to maintain peace and unity, with consideration and respect for each other. There is always room for different (scientific) perspectives and feelings at Utrecht University. Calls for hatred, violence, intolerance, intimidation or calls that otherwise transgress those frameworks of open society have no place there.

On behalf of the Executive Board of Utrecht University,

Anton Pijpers

Interested to talk further? Or do you need help?

Utrecht University is committed to supporting everyone who is directly or indirectly affected by these events. We offer our students and employees support in this regard. If you are a student and are looking for information, advice or guidance, check the page Who to contact? to see who you can contact. Employees who are concerned can seek support from their manager and Staff Welfare Service (intranet, login required).