Antiwar protesters at Auraria Campus have ended their encampment

The student-led protest lasted just over three weeks and led to dozens of arrests.
3 min. read
Tivoli Quad at Auraria campus, after students and administration removed a protest encampment that lasted three weeks.
Auraria Higher Education Center

After more than three weeks, organizers at Auraria Campus protesting the war in Gaza officially announced they were ending their protest encampment Saturday.

The three weeks their tents were up made the encampment one of the longest running of the student-led antiwar protests that took off nationwide after police arrested students at Columbia University in April. The protests oppose the war in Gaza, which began in October when Hamas killed more than 1,000 Israelis and took another 200 hostage. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israel’s counterattack.

On Friday, protesters scattered across the Auraria campus, moving the dozens of tents and public art pieces that had been set up on Tivoli Quad to new locations. On Saturday, Auraria Higher Education Center spokesperson Devra Ashby called the encampment “abandoned” and said staff have begun cleaning up the quad.

80 people have been arrested over the course of the Auraria protests, including 16 active students and three staff and faculty members

Protesters at the Auraria antiwar camp are moving their tents campus-wide. Friday, May 17, 2024.
Rebecca Tauber/Denverite

In a statement Saturday, organizers with Students for a Democratic Society touted the encampment for raising awareness about the war.

“Since April 25, 2024, the Auraria Encampment for Palestine, organized by the Denver Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), has achieved significant milestones that have made clear the power of student organizing; have shown the strength of community solidarity, and have strengthened our movements for liberation,” SDS organizers wrote in a statement posted to their Instagram Saturday.

The statement pointed to Metropolitan State University’s agreement to provide information related to its investments as a concrete win from the protest, though MSU has not yet released that information. Organizers did not get any other clear concessions from MSU or the University of Colorado around investments, nor did the schools meet their other demands, which included issuing statements in opposition to the war and severing ties with companies that hold contracts with Israel and the U.S. military.

“No regent is offering any policy changes in response to the demands,” wrote the University of Colorado Board of Regents last week in response to the encampment.

The end of the encampment comes as some students across the country have begun to strike deals with colleges in exchange for ending the protests.

Last week, Harvard University agreed to discuss concerns around its endowment and reinstate students suspended during the protests. Other schools, like Brown University, have agreed to formally vote on divestment.

The pro-Palestine protest camp at Denver's Auraria Campus. May 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

As the camp winds down, Auraria leadership said that Tivoli Quad and all other green spaces on campus will be closed until further notice as staff clean up the area and complete property repairs.

At the end of last week, all three schools at Auraria switched to remote learning because of the encampment. Ashby said the campus will remain restricted to "critical personnel and operations" for now, without a clear timeline for if or when that might change.

“Leaders have worked diligently towards finding a peaceful resolution,” Ashby wrote Saturday. “We hope this will end more than three weeks of unauthorized occupation that has increasingly escalated into dangerous activities, taken significant time, resources, and dialogue with student protesters to resolve, and has pulled us away from our academic mission and goals.”

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