Anti-Israel Protesters at University of Notre Dame Arrested

While Notre Dame has prevented the protests from intervening with school activities, the same cannot be said for other elite colleges and universities.

Notre Dame University.
Notre Dame University. (photo: Matt B. / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

As anti-Israel protests sweep the nation, 17 protesters were arrested last week at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, for trespassing in violation of the university’s code of conduct as part of an anti-Israel protest. 

Colleges across the U.S. have seen classes canceled or made remote with some top universities canceling graduations in response to the anti-Israel protests and encampments. President Joe Biden condemned the “ferocious surge of antisemitism in America and around the world” on Wednesday in an address on Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Notre Dame joined the ranks of colleges such as the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and Columbia University in New York where student protests have been rampant. Protests at Notre Dame began at the end of April and continued this week, with a rally on Sunday just off campus. 

Protests have continued despite the arrests of 17 students on May 2 at about 10 p.m. in the pouring rain, according to the local newspaper The Observer. Earlier that day, students had attempted to establish an encampment on campus, but Notre Dame police confiscated the tent. After being asked to leave by school administrators, police arrested the students for criminal trespassing. Most students were released shortly with court dates set for June 28, though three protesters charged with resisting arrest had hearings on May 3. 

Days after the arrests, protesters gathered in front of the Notre Dame campus on May 5 at the cross-section of Notre Dame Avenue and Angela Boulevard for an “All eyes on Palestine rally” organized by the organization “Occupation Free ND.” 

Occupation Free ND published its “demands,” asking the university for the “disclosure of invested fund[s] accompanied by genuine efforts towards divestment from weapons manufacturing companies” as well as requesting “Academic Boycott and Ethical Engagement with Universities in Israel” in a post on X. The post also recommended that protesters wear face masks and cover any identifying tattoos and jewelry to the rally. 

Footage by local news station 16WNDU showed protesters holding signs that had slogans such as, “Ceasefire now,” “We’re a Catholic University funded by blood money,” and “Free Palestine.” 

These protests began at the end of April during the celebration of Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins’ retirement. 

Protesters demanded transparency from the university on its investments in military contractor companies, that it reevaluate the university’s ties to Israeli universities, and that the university alter a 1969 rule that requires protests receive approval from the administration in addition to other regulations, according to a statement by Occupation Free ND on X. 

They also called for revoking a “15-minute protest rule,” which was designed in the wake of disruptive protests in the 1960s to prevent protests from impinging on regular campus activity, according to the university’s website.

While Notre Dame has prevented the protests from intervening with school activities, the same cannot be said for other elite colleges and universities.

UCLA announced the cancellation of its largest graduation ceremony last week, while Columbia has reverted to online classes in addition to canceling graduation earlier this week. This has had its greatest impact on the students of the Class of 2024, many of whom lost their high school graduations in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notre Dame did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.