Roughly 300 protesters rally at Johnson Hall Tuesday, May 7 calling on University of Oregon administrators to divest from companies that are tied to funding Israeli defense forces. Photo by Emerson Brady.

Student Journalists Cover Gaza Protest

Daily Emerald journalists provide extensive coverage of the UO pro-Palestine encampment 

By Eliza Aronson and Emerson Brady

The pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Oregon has been active for over a week with more than 100 tents set up in front of the Knight Library. The Daily Emerald, the UO’s independent student media organization, has been providing boots-on-the-ground coverage from sunup to sundown each day. 

On April 29, UO students joined the nationwide movement of pro-Palestine encampments on college campuses. “The Daily Emerald has been consistent in its reporting from day one,” says LJ Smith, a graduate student at the UO. “They stood through the rain and cold even when there was truly nothing to cover except for us being cold in our tents. That is commitment.”

Student journalists have played a critical role in covering the protests that have erupted across the U. S. as college students take over lawns and university buildings, calling for administrations to divest from Israel and the war in Gaza.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians –– more than 14,500 of those casualties are children –– since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which killed more than 1,200 Israelis. 

The Students for Justice for Palestine, UO Jewish Voices for Peace and the Working Committee of Grads for Palestine are the coalitions at UO organizing for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. 

Their demands include immediate divestment from Jasper Ridge Partners, an investment management service that invests the UO Foundation’s funds in companies tied to the defense industry such as aerospace manufacturer Boeing, investment management company Vanguard and Israel-based international military technology company Elbit Systems. The coalitions are also calling on the university to boycott academic exchanges and other relationships with Israeli universities, among other demands. 

University President John Karl Scholz released a statement Wednesday, May 1, saying that the UO will not be complying with the coalition’s demands. Scholz writes, “Divestment, like academic boycotts, run counter to our obligations to our students, our state, and to some degree, our country.”

In another statement on Tuesday, May 7, Scholz asked for the overnight encampment to end and said the university will be “moving forward with the student conduct process related to violations of campus policy as appropriate.” 

Student reporting has been on the frontlines of these protests, often ahead of mainstream media outlets.  Last month Columbia University’s college radio station, WKCR, was thrust into the national spotlight after covering encampment arrests and protesters’ interactions with NYPD when mainstream news outlets couldn’t get on campus. The Pulitzer board recognized their reporting in a statement released on May 1 for documenting a national news event under “difficult and dangerous circumstances.”

Before the UO’s encampment was set up on the Memorial Quadrangle lawn, the Daily Emerald was already preparing for the story. Editor-in-Chief Evan Reynolds tells Eugene Weekly that two weeks ago, the staff of the Daily Emerald had a preliminary meeting in response to encampments at college universities across the country.

“It was never really a question of if an encampment would happen here, so much as when,” Reynolds says.

He says the staff of the Daily Emerald became aware of the UO encampment early in the morning of April 29, and since then the paper has updated coverage every couple of hours, from 8 am to as late as 11pm some nights, publishing a recap at the end of the day of events. 

UO faculty member and SEIU 503 steward Chris Case says he has felt like there are some misconceptions about the UO’s encampment perpetuated by national media. “When I came here yesterday, I saw students teaching classes, faculty lecturing, students cooking and making art,” he says. “It wasn’t a bunch of violent extremists targeting people and making people feel unsafe.” 

Case adds that he’s found student reporting of the encampments to be more “even-handed,” doing “a good job of letting people know what’s going on inside the encampment.”

While the Emerald has by far the most live coverage of the encampment, other Eugene outlets such as KEZI, KLCC and The Register-Guard have also done stories. 

“There’s a lot of outside outlets that are coming on college campuses who have not covered campus demonstrations before, who are saying, ‘Oh, this is a relevant story nationally, let’s go in there and talk to the students,’” Reynolds explains. “And I’m not going to comment on specific outlets, but some of them are in bad faith. And some of them are very intimidating to students on all sides who are seeing their campus turn into a spectacle.”

“I do think there is something special about talking to student journalists,” says encampment member Carolyn Roderique. “I think I don’t want to be too mean, but I think some professional journalists can have egos about them. And I think the Emerald is very open to the fact that they are learning. You can kind of relate on that level of like, yeah, you’re still practicing in your field. I’m still practicing my field. We’re both kind of learning together.”

The Daily Emerald’s news editor, Tristin Hoffman, says she is proud of the work the Emerald has put in to cover these protests so extensively, but admits there are still angles she’d like to see the student publication cover. “I would love to know more about the inner workings of the encampment and the process of getting the camp set up,” she says. Hoffman will take over as editor of the campus news outlet in June. 

Some UO students and encampment organizers want to see more coverage from media organizations about why they’re protesting. The UO Jewish Voices for Peace president Gabriella M., who asked not to use her last name out of fear of retaliation from the UO administration, says, “I think often people do not focus enough on what we’re doing and why we’re here, especially when universities and police escalate things like what we’ve seen across the country.” She adds, “For every one article that is written about our encampment there should be 100 articles written about the mass graves that are being discovered in Gaza.”

Other UO community members such as Michael Malek Najjar, a UO theater professor who works on Arab American theater and performance, say they feel like the mainstream media coverage “gives too much coverage to one side or the other, rather than understanding the nuances of the situation.” 

UO political philosophy professor Michael Dreiling says he hopes to see more of this kind of coverage of protests from student journalists in the future. He adds, “For journalists to be able to relay these perspectives on what’s happening on the ground; it’s one of the most important functions of the free press and we need to sustain it.”

Emerald Editor Reynolds says, “A lot of these folks — this is the first big story that they’ve ever worked on. And it’s scary and exhilarating. There’s a lot of emotions wrapped up in it.” 

Jasmine Saboorian is a third-year student who has been a part of the Daily Emerald since January 2023; she’s currently a senior news reporter and will become the news desk editor next year. 

“I feel like it [the encampment] has really grown my experience as a student journalist,” she says. “I feel like I’ve become a lot more sensitive to how people feel and the things that they say, and I know how to separate being human from being a journalist. I feel like that’s a really strong trait to have.”

 To find the Daily Emerald’s coverage go to

This story has been updated.