UGA properly handled student protests, Chancellor Sonny Perdue says

University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue (Photo: Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue (Photo: Miguel Martinez /

University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue defended how the University of Georgia responded Monday morning to an encampment on its campus , which included the arrests of several students.

“If students are preventing their classmates from getting their education, then they are trespassing,” Perdue said in an interview Tuesday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Perdue said some protesters blocked sidewalks and did not comply with orders from law enforcement to disband.

Perdue said the University System, which oversees operations at UGA and 25 other colleges and universities, has guidelines on disruptive behavior. The policy states students determined to be involved in activities that disrupt activity at any of their schools are subject to disciplinary procedures, “possibly resulting in academic dismissal or termination of employment.”

Many students, though, criticized the University of Georgia’s actions. At least two of the protesters who had been arrested Monday reappeared at a protest Monday afternoon. Demonstrators greeted them with hugs and chants of “welcome back, welcome back.”

In all, 16 protesters were arrested Monday, authorities confirmed Tuesday. Of those, 10 were students, according to a person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to share that information publicly.

One of the UGA students who was arrested Monday said the university also has suspended her, along with half a dozen other students. UGA spokespeople declined late Monday and early Tuesday to confirm or comment on any suspensions.

Perdue said other disciplinary actions, such as suspensions, will be reviewed.

Protests over the Israel-Hamas war have intensified on dozens of college campuses nationwide in the last two weeks. Most of the demonstrations are by students and others critical of the Israeli government’s recent actions in the conflict. The demands by protesters have included that the colleges and universities divest from companies directly involved with the Israeli government.

Perdue said there are no plans to make any changes to the commencement schedule for any of its schools. The chancellor said there are discussions about additional security for University System schools that are planning off-campus commencement ceremonies.

The chancellor said students can protest, but stressed students should do so within University System of Georgia guidelines.

“If you choose to protest, protest,” said Perdue, a former two-term Georgia governor. “But do it in a lawful way.”