On 18th May 2024, a die-in blocked the entrance to the Sheldonian Theatre as well as the Bodleian Library, where numerous graduation ceremonies in Oxford are taking place. Outside one of these entrances, a protest banner reads: ‘Israel has destroyed every university in Gaza’.

Image displays two protestors holding banner which reads ‘Israel has destroyed every university in Gaza’. Photo taken by Alice Brooker.

The Oxford Blue has been in conversation with an anonymous student and representative from Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P), to find out more about the significance of the die-in. The representative has told us the die-in is a “direct response to the university’s inaction”: Oxford University has yet to directly respond to the six demands laid out by OA4P. Although the  Vice-Chancellor of the University, Irene Tracey, released a ‘Response to the recent encampment’ on 14th April 2024, the representative has told us hers is a “vacuous statement”.  There has yet to be any “constructive dialogue” when it comes to the university meeting the demands of OA4P

When asked if they were aware of any backlash to the die-in, the representative stressed the “broad student support” OA4P has received so far in all peaceful protests. They also stressed that their protests, including the die-in, do not reflect any “qualms with our student community”. The representative told us how over 1200+ students of the university have joined the Student Open Letter Campaign, and also emphasised how the student community has “helped support and endorse our demands”. 

When asked how Oxford University continues to be complicit in the war against Palestine, the representative cited Oxford’s responsibility to divest its finances away from Israeli genocide, and support Palestinian-led rebuilding of education in Gaza instead. Although these demands have been “put on the table” by OA4P, the representative highlighted the lack of direct response from the Vice-Chancellor. 

The Oxford Blue also asked what the next steps were in terms of protest: the representative confirmed OA4P would “continue to mobilise” until there is a meaningful response from the Vice-Chancellor. When asked about what the Oxford student body can do if they wish to support OA4P, the representative encouraged continued engagement and visiting OA4P’s welcome tent at the encampment situated at the Pitt Rivers Museum.