Portland State University Protesters Occupy and Vandalize Library, Campus Closed

Last month a group of Portland State University protesters took over the school library and vandalized it extensively in an attempt to keep the police out. That effort failed as police moved in just a few days later and made several arrests. Of the 30 people who were arrested only six turned out to be students (two turned out to be homeless people who claimed they had no idea arrests were being made). 

Unfortunately the damage done to the library in the 3-days the vandals occupied it was significant. Today the school released an estimate for repairing the damage:

According to PSU, the costs to restore Millar Library will be roughly $750,000, give or take $125,000.

That total doesn’t include replacing and repairing damaged technology and furniture and PSU said they hope to have an updated total including those repairs in the coming weeks.

The clean up effort started two weeks ago and is expected to continued until the start of the fall semester. Even in Portland many thought the vandalism went too far. As mentioned in this KGW report, the damage could have been much worse if not for the fact that one person went inside and convinced the vandals not to trash the special collections room where the most valuable items are stored.

But because this is Portland, President Ann Cudd is still under pressure for choosing to call in the police.

Portland State President Ann Cudd addressed the university’s Faculty Senate last week. She explained the thinking behind calling on the Portland Police Bureau to remove protesters occupying the school’s library rather than continuing to negotiate with the occupiers. She reiterated that she supports free speech, but Cudd said she draws the line at criminal activity.

“To those who have condemned our action of bringing the Portland Police on campus, I ask this: How long should I have allowed the protesters to stay in the library? How many times should I have offered students an opportunity to leave without consequences?” Cudd said…

Millar library staff who were also at the meeting said they felt traumatized and violated by the occupation. Some commented that they might never feel safe working in the building again. Another said they lost trust in the Portland State community as whole after learning some peers were unfazed by the destruction of the library.

Meanwhile, even apart from the destruction of the library, the environment on campus continues to be one hostile to anyone supportive of Israel.

Natan Meir, a professor of Judaic studies, has been at PSU for almost 16 years. He’s part of a campus-wide task force created by President Ann Cudd a few months ago to promote dialogue and deal with issues of antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab bias…

“Part of the problem that we’re facing at PSU is that there has been very, very little nuanced discussion of the war,” he said. “The campus discussion has almost entirely been guided or led by the student protest movement, which is entirely black and white…

Another PSU student spoke to OPB anonymously about her experiences as a mixed Indigenous student who is both Jewish and Native American.

Speaking about the “progressive, leftist culture and social and political environment of PSU,” her voice broke, saying she feels “completely and utterly betrayed on both sides.”…

“It’s literally midterms. Like, our education is being toyed with,” she continued, “and we’re sitting, afraid, in our homes while our classmates and our f***ing professors are out screaming horrible things, horrible antisemitic things, and trashing our school buildings.”…

“There’s this whole dynamic of like … [to be] a ‘good Jewish student’ — somebody who’s allowed to socialize with everyone else at school — is somebody who completely disowns their own ancestry and disowns their own culture,” she said. “You have to have no connection to Israel at all if you want to be accepted as a ‘good Jew’ at school.

I suspect this is a feeling currently shared by Jewish students on a lot of US campuses. The activists are a minority but they are a noisy minority who instill fear in those who don’t share their views. It’s one more reason why administrators have to put a stop to this before it escalates to harassment and vandalism.

Finally, here’s a local news report on the announcement today.

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