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Students from Sydney walk out of high schools and universities across the city to demand justice for Palestine. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Monique Harmer

Uni students continue to protest for Palestine

University students are continuing to protest the Israel-Gaza war five months into its duration, some during class time without penalty.

Activists called on high school and university students to skip class and attend a “Strike for Palestine” demonstration planned outside Sydney’s Town Hall on Thursday.

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) staff were told the university would not penalise students ditching lectures due to “social justice” reasons.

Students from Sydney walk out of high schools and universities across the city to demand justice for Palestine. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Monique Harmer

“Staff have been asked to make sure that where students miss a class due to participation in the strike, they are not disadvantaged,” an official note to staff said.

“The University has agreed to this request in the context of the social impact framework, under which UTS supports the rights of staff and students to work towards social justice, advocate for causes they believe in, and voice their opinions freely without fear of reprisal.

“For the university to remain a community focused on learning, growth and social justice, it is imperative that all within the community feel free to express their views, noting that this needs to be done respectfully at all times.”

At the University of Sydney (USyd), a note to teachers and academics warned there may be “attempted disruption of classes” over coming weeks, and to ignore those disruptions if possible.

“Verbal confrontation or arguments are not advised and could escalate and prolong disruption,” the official advice states.

“If the protester(s) wish to make a brief statement, you can allow them to do so before resuming the class.”

Jewish students feeling unsafe

The Australian Jewish Association (AJA) said Jewish students are being made to feel increasingly unwelcome and it appeared the university was bending over backwards to accommodate students who want to protest against Israel.

“The guidelines given by the University of Sydney to their staff are disgraceful and cowardly,” AJA chief executive Robert Gregory said.

“Complete disregard is shown to students who come to university to actually attend class and learn.

“We have now heard from many Jewish students who feel extremely unwelcome in this toxic environment."

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Alex Ryvchin said it was “immensely distressing” to Jewish students to know their peers will march in support of Hamas chanting “violent, genocidal slogans that are a feature of these rallies, and doing so with the blessing of the university”

My Ryvchin also raised the issue of the Cornerstone Cafe at UTS, which has a pro-Palestinian display including a sign stating “Our cafe is 14,121km away from Jerusalem the Capital of Palestine” and another sign saying it had removed Coca Cola and Pepsi, brands that have known linked ties to Israel, and replaced them with “more sustainable alternatives,” above a Palestinian flag.

A USyd spokeswoman said that students had a “long history of using campus for political debate and protest, and we’re committed to respecting their right to express their opinions while also ensuring our teaching and learning can proceed safely and with as little disruption as possible”.

A UNSW spokeswoman has previously stated that the "university protects academic freedom and freedom of speech wherever people express their views within the law," when the AJA made a complaint about an academic's pro-Palestine tweet.

Anti-nuclear protest

University of New South Wales (UNSW) students protested the launch of the uni's Nuclear Innovation Centre, where engineering, maths and science students will research and design nuclear technology.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy spoke at the launch as a push to build a defence workforce capable of handling Australia's AUKUS needs.

Students Against War demand UNSW "cut all ties with Israel".

"To deliver the AUKUS submarine programme, we need to train a workforce of thousands of Australians, and we're setting ourselves up for success by expanding the pool of young people who study engineering, mathematics, chemistry, and physics," the minister said.

Students Against War gathered on the lawn outside The John Niland Scientia Building, where the centre launch was held.

Students Against War protested outside the building where academics and university staff gathered to celebrate the Nuclear Innovation Centre's opening. Picture: Erin Morley

Protestors said although they are for nuclear energy, they don't support the research into nuclear weapons on campus, and are against the war in Palestine.

"This nuclear innovation hub is the product of millions of dollars of subsidies that the Australian government has given UNSW to facilitate research into AUKUS," protestor Midhat Jafri said.

"We believe militarising our campus is completely unacceptable.

"Campus is a place UNSW should be educated. It's not a place UNSW students should be involved and be complicit in genocide and in the development of nuclear weaponry."

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