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University of Copenhagen
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Camp at the University of Copenhagen. What are the facts?

Protest — Why does the university end its cooperation with Russia, but not with Israel? And why does UCPH invest in companies operating in Israeli-occupied territories? The protest camp that emerged on campus on 6 May raises a few questions that we try to answer here.

For several days now, pro-Palestinian protesters have been living in a protest camp on the grass on University of Copenhagen (UCPH) grounds at the old municipal hospital, which houses the Faculty of Social Sciences.

What are the camp protesters’ demands?

The University of Copenhagen should:

1) Acknowledge and condemn the ongoing genocide. Call for an immediate ceasefire and the lifting of the siege of Gaza.

2) Withdraw their investments from companies that profit from, or are complicit in, the occupation of Palestine.

3) Offer full financial transparency in relation to their investments.

4) Withdraw from their purchasing agreements with companies that profit from, or are complicit in, the occupation of Palestine.

5) Commit to an academic boycott by terminating all institutional collaboration with Israeli academic institutions.

6) Recognize the plight of their own Palestinian students.

Source: Students Against the Occupation

They have six demands for UCPH that need to be met before leaving the area (see fact box right).

The group is led by the association Students Against the Occupation, which encourages everyone to join the camp. It is not therefore, necessarily, only students who are camping there.

From the outset, the university’s management has announced that they will allow activists to demonstrate and express themselves on the UCPH campus. This is so long as protesters do not harass other students or employees. It will not, however, give in to the group’s six demands.

READ ALSO: Students occupy University of Copenhagen campus with tents, slogans

UCPH foreign policy

The university has stated on several occasions that it will not speak out politically about the conflict in Gaza.

»The University of Copenhagen as an institution has no, and will have no opinion, on the ongoing conflict in Gaza,« the university states on its official social media account X.

This is primarily due to the fact that »the University of Copenhagen does not have its own foreign policy,« as Prorector for Education Kristian C. Lauta has stated to the Danish media DR.

For this reason, they will not stop cooperating with Israeli universities.

READ ALSO: 2,000 students and employees want to force the University of Copenhagen to sell off its West Bank investments

But didn’t UCPH stop all cooperation with Russia and Belarus as a result of the war in Ukraine?

Yes, they did – just like the other Danish universities. But there is the key difference that it was at the request of the Danish government.

UCPH is a public institution and part of the public administration. It is therefore also subject to what the government and a majority of the Danish parliament decide in terms of global conflicts.

UCPH investment policy

The protesters are also demanding that UCPH stop investing in companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Although UCPH is a public institution with no independent foreign policy, it is also a self-governing institution. The university is therefore free to choose how it invests funds from its equity.

Why does UCPH invest in companies operating in Israeli-occupied territories?

UCPH has outsourced its investment activities to asset managers who, according to UCPH, invest in accordance with an »ethical investment policy«.

The University’s governing Board approved the current investment policy in April this year.

READ ALSO: Students after University of Copenhagen opts to continue Israel investments: »A huge nothing burger«

But even though UCPH invests in accordance with these ethical guidelines, it continues to invest in companies operating in the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Specifically two holiday rental companies and Airbnb, as well as the online travel company eDreams ODIGEO.

These three companies appear on the UN list of companies operating in the occupied territories.

According to UCPH, the value of investments in the three companies is approximately DKK 1 million.

What now?

Students against the Occupation say they will stay until UCPH meets their six demands. The UCPH management has allowed the protesters to keep the tent camp as long as they do not harass students or staff. But they have at the same time stressed that they will not give in to their demands. The two sides are therefore currently in a stalemate, and are staring each other down, and the question is ultimately: who will be the first to blink.

The University Post has tried to get an interview with university management, but it has been unable to do so. They refer to their posts on the social media X.