A woman sporting the word "Palestine" in Arabic marches in Madrid
A woman sporting the word "Palestine" in Arabic marches in Madrid

Deakin University has called for the immediate removal of pro-Palestinian encampment from its campus, becoming the first varsity in the country to make such a request.

However, the student protesters called the move "Orwellian," and refused to move out till their demands were met.

Deputy vice-chancellor, Kerrie Parker, wrote to the organizers, requesting them to dismantle and remove the encampment, adding that it was required to ensure the "safety, security and amenity of all campus users."

She pointed out the students had initially said the camp would be held from May 7 to 10, a date which has passed, The Guardian reported.

"The university's expectation was that the encampment would conclude ... at the end of last Friday, relieving the university of its obligation to ensure the safety of the protesters and other campus users," she wrote. "However, a small group have remained in continuous occupation at the Morgan's Walk site at the Burwood campus over the weekend." The university has now barricaded Morgan's Walk.

Parker also pointed out "utterly unacceptable" behavior of protesters, including hate speech. She added Deakin would not tolerate unacceptable language or behavior that breached its code of conduct.

However, Deakin Gaza Solidarity Encampment refused to dismantle the camp till their demands were met. In a post published on social media, the protesters reiterated their demands that the university immediately "divest its ties with the state of Israel and all weapons manufacturers," and sought a meeting with the vice-chancellor.

A camp representative, Jasmine Duff, said the protesters had received legal advice that the camp was lawful, The Age reported. The protesters will hold a rally on Wednesday to demonstrate that it was not going anywhere, she added.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated the continuation of encampments was a matter for police. "We in this country have a right to protest," he said. "That's really important ... but it's important as well that it be respectful. And I say this to people, how they protest reflects on whether that protest is winning support or losing support."

Meanwhile, the minister for education, Jason Clare, said the universities should give priority to the safety of students and staff on campus.

"Universities have student codes of conduct, and they should be enforcing those codes of conduct," he said.

Deakin is the first educational institution that is asking for the removal of the pro-Palestine encampment from its campus. Last week, Victoria police had requested vice-chancellors to allow greater powers to shut down the encampments, warning that prolonged camps may lead to violence between protesters and counter-protest groups.