Paris Alston: This is GBH's Morning Edition. An encampment protesting the war in Gaza remains on MIT and Harvard campuses this morning, despite an order from the schools yesterday, at least in the case of MIT, for students to clear it. This comes after a tense standoff with police and a blocking of Mass. Ave. during rush hour yesterday. Ellie Montemayor is the publisher of the MIT student newspaper, The Tech, and joins us now for the latest. Ellie, Good morning. Thanks for being here.

Ellie Montemayor: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Alston: So can you give us a quick recap of what all happened last night?

Montemayor: Yeah. So I think a lot happened. The encampment has been set up for around three weeks now. And this morning — or yesterday morning, rather, at around 8 a.m., a tent was established right outside the entrance of the encampment with facilities and police kind of checking in IDs to let people in. At around 1:44 p.m., a statement was issued out to the community saying that everybody who is still in the encampment will be suspended, academic suspension or full suspension, depending on their current status at MIT. And then, as the day progressed, protesters, both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli, flooded the student center plaza and joined demonstrations as people were protesting against this really sudden action by the campus. And around 4:30 p.m. yesterday, pro-Palestinian demonstrators flooded the gates of the encampment and tore down the six foot barricades that had been set up since, I believe, May 3. And for the rest of the day, they took hold of the encampment space that previously held, around eight encampers since the beginning of the day when everybody kind of left the encampment for fear of academic retaliation. By that evening, university and the night ended with the pro-Palestinian demonstrators and taking hold of the encampment once again, and staying another night, even though the university had promised to kind of, like, tear down the encampment.

Alston: And we know that the student center is closed indefinitely until further notice. How are things on campus this morning?

Montemayor: This morning, I've gotten some reports, actually, that the student center has been reopened, but that some offices in the building, like club offices and things, still remain closed. It's unclear as to what's actually happening right now. Obviously, I'm here and not there reporting, but I think things are still feeling a little bit tense as the encampment widens into its third week. We haven't gotten any information from the university yet, since their last email last night kind of recounting the day's events. And, you know, MIT police are kind of monitoring the area, as they have been for the past three weeks. But nothing new has happened yet.

Alston: Now, the pro-Palestinian student protesters are claiming last night's sort of resurgence of the encampment as a victory. What have you been hearing from students about why they're standing their ground?

Montemayor: I think that right now the pro-Palestinian demonstrators are trying to hold the encampment as long as they can. They've been in negotiations with the administration for weeks now. And at this point, no real resolution has been made, no real step or change in negotiations have been made since. The pro-Palestinian demonstrators are standing their ground. They're calling for an end to the research ties of the university. While the institute has been, I guess, reluctant to make any sway in their position of fighting for academic freedom of the professors and researchers at MIT and have only promised, as far as I know, kind of vague comments about further review later on in the next school year. But I think at this point, no real resolution has been made on negotiations from either side. And so the demonstrators are trying to hold their ground, as far as I know, until a change has been made in what the Institute is willing to accept.

Alston: And you mentioned that that suspension is on the table. How worried are students about that?

Montemayor: I think pretty worried. At this point, threats of that have been made for months now. On November, I believe, November 9th, in early November, another protest was staged in Lobby Seven, which is MIT main lobby. And, that resulted in some students being threatened with academic suspension, with suspension and just kind of like being removed from MIT. As far as we know, no actual action has been instated against any of the students involved, and it's just been threats so far. So I think many of the students, while fearful of it, have kind of like realized that the Institute may be reluctant to make any actual action. And a lot of the students who stay in the encampment, for example, the five students who stay in the encampement, were pretty aware of the situation and were ready to risk their graduation, I guess, their academic future. Based on our conversations and interviews with them.

Alston: Now, we mentioned that things did get sort of tense last night, but from your perspective, the perspective of the Tech, how would you describe the nature of the protest at large? Had they been peaceful or somewhat problematic?

Montemayor: I don't think peaceful is the right word to use for the protests on campus, but I don't think violent is the right word either. There was, on May 3rd, there was a pro-Israeli rally that was established or I guess that occurred on, the steps of Lobby Seven. And many people were expecting that to be a particularly violent protest. Many people were expecting the pro-Israeli demonstrators to try and sweep the encampment. That didn't end up happening. There were a lot of police involved, coordination between MIT Police, Cambridge Police and state troopers, to kind of make sure that the groups were separated. And while vocal conflict did happen as the rally ended and pro-Israeli demonstrators rushed to the encampment, I think police were able to prevent any violent action from actually happening. I think I was really worried on the ground yesterday when, the, the pro-Palestinian demonstrators started storming the encampment, tearing down the barricades. I think that was a very charged moment, as the fervor of the, of the moment swept through the plaza. And I was worried that some amount of violence might happen. But luckily, the groups continued to be separated by the police, and nothing really bad happened.

Alston: So, Ellie, really quickly, before we let you go here, President [Sally] Kornbluth was among those who testified before Congress and that very high profile testimony back in December about antisemitism on campus. How is the university's response being influenced by that?

Montemayor: Could you reset the question a little?

Alston: Just in terms of — do you think that this is something that's in the background of the university's mind in how it responds to these protests, and thinking about the presence of antisemitism on campus?

Montemayor: Yeah, I think Congress is really trying to put pressure on universities, especially now. And I think that the institute is really worried about what will happen to the president, what will happen to a lot of the senior administrators involved. And, you know, we saw what happened with Penn and Harvard, and I think they're really trying to cover their bases and not do anything rash or anything that might lead to a resignation or a call for a resignation.

Alston: Well, that is Ellie Montemayor, who is publisher of MIT student newspaper The Tech. Ellie, thank you so much.

Montemayor: Thanks so much.

Alston: You're listening to GBH News.

Pro-Palestinian encampments remain on MIT and Harvard campuses today, a day after both universities threatened to suspend students who refused to remove their tents.

Student journalists at the schools have been on the ground reporting as the situation has developed over the past few weeks. Reporters who spoke to GBH News on Tuesday say that demonstrators at each of their respective campuses seem determined to stay.

Ellie Montemayor, publisher of MIT's student newspaper The Tech, said student protesters at the school have been in negotiations with the administration for weeks.

“And at this point, no real resolution has been made,” Montemayor told Morning Edition co-host Paris Alston.

The university, Montemayor said, has been “reluctant to make any sway in their position of fighting for academic freedom of the professors and researchers at MIT.” Administrators have alluded to future review of research ties.

A similar scenario is unfolding at Harvard's campus.

Azusa Lippit said she and other reporters from the Harvard Crimson student newspaper were at the encampment when the interim president announced students who continued to occupy the area would be “referred for involuntary leave.”

“The reaction was definitely tense; we saw students gather in meetings, take intermittent votes, raising their hands,” Lippit told All Things Considered host Arun Rath.

Lippit said on Monday night, hundreds of protesters marched from Harvard Yard to interim President Alan M. Garber’s personal residence.

“Based on the remarks of that march, as well as a press conference that preceded it, those who are continuing to participate are very much determined to stay until negotiations occur,” she said. But Lippit noted that the number of people at the encampment seems to have decreased as a result of the threat of suspension.

Monday was also an eventful day on MIT's campus.

“As the day progressed, protesters — both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli — flooded the student center plaza and joined demonstrations as people were protesting against this really sudden action by the campus,” Montemayor said.

Monday ended with pro-Palestinian demonstrators and taking hold of the encampment and staying another night, Montemayor said.

“I think things are still feeling a little bit tense as the encampment widens into its third week,” Montemayor said.

At Harvard, Lippit said that tensions were palpable this morning.

“Administrators came out from University Hall in Harvard Yard and conducted an ID check, which has been pretty routine over the past two weeks,” she said. “But today, for the first time, students refused to comply, stating that they will not be producing IDs, which is a standard procedure in the Harvard College Student Handbook — that students will present IDs when requested by administrators.”