Students sit in Founders Park at the University of Southern California in order to establish an encampment despite LAPD and campus DPS attempts to shut it down. From April 25, 2024 by Scheer Post staff writer Talia Mullin.

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

The president of Portland State University announced Friday that the school would suspend its connections to the military contractor Boeing as campus protests against U.S. colleges’ complicity in Israel’s war on Gaza intensified.

In an email to students and faculty, PSU president Ann Cudd wrote that while the university has no investments in Boeing, it “accepts philanthropic gifts from the company.”

“In consideration of the strong feelings that have been expressed, PSU will pause seeking or accepting any further gifts or grants from the Boeing Company until we have had a chance to engage in this debate and come to conclusions about a reasonable course of action,” Cudd wrote.

The announcement came amid an upsurge of campus protests nationwide, with students and faculty walking out of classrooms and setting up encampments in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The demonstrations have continued spreading in the face of violent police crackdowns and right-wing attempts to discredit them as antisemitic; one tally shows that protests have taken place on at least 75 U.S. campuses over the past week.

Oregon Public Broadcastingnoted Friday that PSU students and faculty have been pushing the university to cut ties with Boeing for months, citing its connections to Israel. Cudd said at a press conference last month that Boeing donated $150,000 to PSU to name a classroom and that a Boeing executive sits on the advisory board of PSU’s business school.

On Thursday night, OPB reported, “a small group of pro-Palestinian protesters, some of whom were holding anti-Boeing signs, set up tents and barricades on Portland State University’s South Park Blocks.”

“Demonstrators had planned to hold a protest on the PSU campus Monday, but it was not immediately clear if the university’s pause on relations to Boeing would change those plans,” the outlet observed. One student told OPB that “the funding from Boeing has already been received by PSU for the year, so putting a pause on it doesn’t actually do anything.”

“It doesn’t change anything about the way things are being conducted,” the student added.

Boeing is one of the largest military contractors in the world, and Amnesty International has documented at least three cases in which Israeli forces used weaponry made by the company to commit atrocities in Gaza.

In one instance earlier this year, the Israeli military used a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb manufactured by Boeing to attack a family building in Rafah, killing 18 civilians and wounding eight others. In October, Israel used Boeing-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions to conduct a pair of airstrikes in Deir al-Balah, killing more than 43 people from two families—including 19 children.

Students across the country have called on their universities to divest from arms manufacturers like Boeing that are profiting from Israel’s U.S.-backed war on Gaza, where the entire population is facing the possibility of famine as Israeli forces impede aid deliveries and prepare for a ground invasion of Rafah.

The Associated Pressreported Friday that Columbia University students who inspired campus demonstrations across the country said they have “reached an impasse with administrators and intend to continue their encampment until their demands are met.”

“We will not rest until Columbia divests,” said doctoral student Jonathan Ben-Menachem.

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Jake Johnson

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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