KU Leuven sets deadline for students to end occupation

Students occupying the De Valk building at KU Leuven must leave by 18.00 on Monday, the university said in a press release. The occupation began on 13 May, with activists demanding an end to the university’s collaborations with Israeli institutions. 

“Over the past weeks, the university has tried to monitor the physical and social safety of both the activists and all other colleagues and students,” KU Leuven said.

“However, as the building is not equipped for weeks of overnight occupancy, the university has had to deploy additional manpower and resources for this purpose. Extra surveillance was necessary as the activists could not ensure that the agreements made on the use of the space were always respected, resulting in, among other things, safety and hygiene incidents.”

Respectful dialogue

Many activities in the college and on campus, such as exams, seminars and conferences, have had to be rescheduled because of the occupation, and safety cannot be adequately monitored during the summer, the university added. 

KU Leuven says it remains open to respectful dialogue with the activists, but does not believe the occupation contributes to this. 

“There are plenty of constructive ways to express opinions and make differences in views known,” it said. “The end of the occupation in no way means there is no more room for divergent views.”

The university wants to focus on rebuilding academic capacity in Gaza and providing practical help for students, researchers and universities from the Palestinian occupied territories.

"The end of the occupation in no way means there is no more room for divergent views"

Activist Khaled said he was "surprised" by the request. "This is the first form of direct communication from KU Leuven to us in a month," he said. "Two weeks ago, the university said in a general notification that there were no plans to expel us. Now they want to stop the peaceful occupation after all."

The students have no plans to leave. "We will stay here, peacefully, until our demands are met. We call on everyone to support us tonight," Khaled said. "There is a possibility that it may come to an eviction, but until then we will definitely stay here. We will continue to point out that KU Leuven is not acting ethically or morally." 


#FlandersNewsService | Students occupy a building at KU Leuven to show solidarity with the people of Palestine © BELGA PHOTO INE GILLIS

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