Anger at state of Aussie university left by student protestors

Protestors who have camped out on university campuses have left – but one photo taken at Melbourne University has sparked criticism.

Discarded items like tents and tables strewn across the University of Melbourne's campus following protestors' lengthy encampment.
A passerby snapped a photo of discarded items like tents and tables strewn across the University of Melbourne's campus following the UniMelb for Palestine's lengthy encampment. Source: Reddit

Aussies have erupted in anger after a photo emerged of piles of discarded items like tents, tarps and rubbish seen left behind at the University of Melbourne after Pro-Palestine protestors ended their lengthy encampment. The protest first began on the South Lawn of the campus — as well as other universities around Australia — several weeks ago.

On May 15, a group of about 100 people ramped up the campaign by staging a sit-in at the Arts West building, prompting the university to cancel classes. Tensions heightened last week when a notice issued by University of Melbourne vice chancellor Duncan Maskell warned students, staff and alumni participating in the protest against Israel’s war in Gaza that police will be called in.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for UniMelb for Palestine told The ABC the encampment would end after the university agreed to disclose any connections with weapon manufacturers. “After months of campaigning, rallies, petitions, meetings and in recent weeks, the encampment, the University of Melbourne has finally agreed to meet an important demand of our campaign,” the spokesperson said.

Protestors seen inside the  University of Melbourne's Arts West building.
Less than two weeks ago, a group of about 100 people moved into the Arts West building, prompting the university to cancel classes. Source:

Following what the protestors deemed a “major win”, it’s believed they started disbanding late last week, however a photo posted on Reddit early on Monday morning appears to show numerous items still strewn across the University of Melbourne’s South lawn including tables, tents, blankets, chairs and helmets.

“The encampment ended three days ago. The uni has commenced clean up today,” said the passerby who took the image.

While many were willing to give the benefit of the doubt to protestors, the image proved divisive online in the wake of the weeks-long disruptive demonstration.

Several Aussies shared their disappointment over the messy scene, saying it resembles the aftermath of a “bush doof”. “How can people just waste money like that? I don’t understand this [mentality], leaving perfectly good blankets and tents behind,” one person said.

The University of Melbourne declined to comment about the mess left behind by protestors when contacted by Yahoo News this morning.

A spokesperson for UniMelb for Palestine told Yahoo News that students were given until Monday morning to “collect and organise everything on the south lawn”, insisting there was no rubbish “whatsoever” left behind, just camping gear.

The remaining belongings are still being collected and the rest will be donated to charities. “Everything left is still being organised by the members,” they said. “We’re organising with charities as well and that takes some time considering the fact that it was over the weekend.”

The Australian National University also announced on Monday the last remaining participants of the Pro-Palestine encampment on its campus were ordered to “immediately vacate the site as it poses an unacceptable safety risk”.

“The University has given the small number of encampment participants a reasonable and non-negotiable direction, on the basis of safety and wellbeing for the ANU community, to immediately remove their belongings and vacate the site,” a spokesperson said.

“ANU expects the remaining encampment participants will follow today’s direction. Failure to comply with this direction, issued to ensure safety and wellbeing, will result in disciplinary action.”

The ABC reports protestors were woken up at 8am on Monday by ANU security guards that have since formed a perimeter. Police reportedly also attended the scene but remained in their cars.

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