Pro-Hamas student govt calls on Emerson president to resign after encampment response

Students at Emerson College in Boston recently demanded that President Jay Bernhardt resign after he helped break up a disruptive pro-Hamas protest on campus.

The protest has resulted in arrested students reportedly facing multiple charges, including trespassing and disturbing the peace.

Students at a small liberal arts school in Boston recently demanded that their school president resign after he helped break up a disruptive pro-Hamas protest on campus.

On April 26, the Student Government Association (SGA) at Emerson College voted unanimously on a resolution calling for president Jay Bernhardt’s resignation. Should Bernhardt not resign, the students also called on the college’s board to “terminate his presidency in immediate effect,” as reported by The Boston Globe.

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SGA created the resolution in response to Bernhardt’s actions the preceding day, during which he and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu made the decision to allow the Boston police force on campus during a pro-Hamas student protest. 

Hundreds of students set up an encampment on a public walkway, demanding a ceasefire resolution between Israel and Hamas, while demanding that Emerson dissolve all ties, financial and otherwise, to businesses providing support to Israel during the conflict. In an interview with a local TV station, one student said that “we’re not going to leave until our demands are met or we’re dragged away by police.”

Police officers on-site spoke with the protesters and asked them to clear the walkway and to allow pedestrians to pass freely. These requests were, according to a report filed by the Boston Police Department, “met with loud chants from demonstrators using bullhorns.”

The officers subsequently made over 100 arrests, citing city ordinances banning obstruction of public walkways, and multiple 911 calls that made noise complaints in relation to the protest. The police report said that “some of these protesters even went so far as demanding that members of the public identify themselves before allowing them to pass down the pedestrian alley” in which the encampment had been established. 

The same report referenced above noted that protesters were warned several times that their actions were grounds for arrest.

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“If this was an issue of fire exits or an issue of walkways, you could just send a couple officers or negotiators. You do not need State Police troopers with riot gear,” SGA president-elect Nandan Nair said, according to The Boston Globe. “For Mayor Wu to claim that this was justified and that the force was justified and any of this was justified, quite frankly, is a calamity, and I am extremely disappointed in her remarks.”

The arrested students reportedly currently face multiple charges, including trespassing and disturbing the peace.

Campus Reform has reached out to Emerson College, Michelle Wu, Jay Bernhardt, and the Boston Police Department for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.