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The tent camp in Lundagård

Erik Renström. Foto: Charlotte Carlberg-Bärg.

For those who have been following the course of events surrounding pro-Palestinian demonstrations and how tent camps were established on American campuses and then spread to other parts of the world, it will not come as a surprise that such demonstrations have now reached Sweden. A tent camp was set up in Lundagård on Tuesday morning (14 May) and similar camps have been established around other higher education institutions.

Many have sought comments from the University during the day and below is a statement on the matter:

Regarding the setting up of a tent camp in Lundagård and pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Lund University emphasises the importance of freedom of expression and academic freedom. Peaceful demonstrations are the right of every citizen in society and the University always defends this right.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators have previously made demands on the University, and this is the University’s position:
The University is to foster the conducting of research and education even in politically, societally or emotionally charged or ethically difficult issues. At the University, discussions on difficult or controversial topics are to be conducted with respect for the perspectives of others even when these views are far from one’s own.

It is not the University’s task to pursue foreign policy issues, which means that staff members, students or interest groups cannot demand that the University as an employer, education provider or public authority manifest political opinions or expect the University to take a stance on political issues. The University is to stand free of pressurisation.

In practice, this means that the University will not comply with demands for public statements, flag-raisings, demonstrations or other manifestations that entail such standpoints. Lund University has no public stance on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and neither will it issue any public position statement. 

Lund University’s researchers have the freedom to decide themselves how they collaborate and who they collaborate with according to the laws and regulations laid down by the Swedish parliament and the Government. This could mean that the University, through exchanges and collaborations, also works in regions where there is war or conflict. The University has no ongoing general cooperation agreements in the region. 

Lund University welcomes an open exchange of views in society. The University stands for dialogue and not conflict, and that respect is shown for the opinions of others. Lund University does not accept harassment of staff members or students, or that the safety of staff members or students is jeopardised.

Lund University is maintaining a dialogue with other public authorities and collaborative partners concerning all the issues that may arise due to the tent camp.

/ Erik Renström, Vice-Chancellor at Lund University