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Smith College students move sit-in outdoors to 'engage more' with campus community

Smith College student protesters, who are a part of the group Students for Justice in Palestine, moved their occupation from an administrative building to a nearby lawn on the Northampton, Massachusetts, campus Tuesday, marking day 13 of their sit-in.

The students — most of whom declined to be identified — said they are moving to the lawn to engage more with the Smith college community, hold educational lectures, and discuss what could be done to further divestment from weapon's manufacturer efforts on campus.

Protesters said the administration expressed wanting to see them engage with the school community more in a meeting on Sunday. The meeting was attended by student protesters as well as three board of trustees members and college President Sarah Willie-LeBreton.

Roz Beile, a student involved in the sit-in and member of Students for Justice in Palestine, said a few things about this meeting changed from previous conditions levied by Smith officials.

Beile said the meeting was open to everyone participating in the protest and none of them had to identify themselves.

"They did acknowledge that campus support is in favor of divestment. However, they consistently derailed this conversation away from our asks and questions — away from our demands,” Beile said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Smith College said the administration is "committed to continuing this dialogue across campus so that the understanding that began during the protests can be further enhanced." However, no follow-up meeting has been scheduled yet.

Beile said she and other protesters are in discussion about holding a town hall on campus, but a date for that has not been set yet either.

Disclosure: We should note that Smith College is a funder of NEPM. Our newsroom operates independently.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.

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