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UT Austin changes message again, says arrested students will be allowed on campus for any reason

State troopers arrest protesters at UT Austin during a pro-Palestinian walkout and demonstration Wednesday.
Patricia Lim
KUT News
State troopers arrest protesters at UT Austin during a pro-Palestinian walkout and demonstration Wednesday.

Students arrested at UT Austin this week will be allowed back on campus for any purpose, a university spokesperson said, reversing earlier statements.

The spokesperson, Brian Davis, had said students charged with trespassing during protests would not be allowed on campus. Two hours later, he said those affiliated with the university could come to campus for "academic reasons," including to take final exams and study.

Later Friday evening, UT Austin sent a statement saying students would have complete access to campus. People arrested at the protest with no connection to the university are still banned.

Davis told KUT students arrested during the pro-Palestinian protest could later face discipline, including restrictions to campus access. The university said it typically doesn't send these kind of notices during finals so students aren't distracted.

Fifty-seven people were arrested Wednesday during the protest on campus. As of Friday, all charges had been dropped. UT Austin said roughly half of those arrested were affiliated with the university.

That includes Jumana Fakhreddine, a 22-year-old pre-med senior. She was arrested Wednesday afternoon, about 10 minutes after joining the protest. She said four to five officers lifted her off her feet and put her in zip-tie handcuffs.

UT Austin warned students before the protest that they could be disciplined for participating.

The charges against Fakhreddine were dropped and she was released from jail just after midnight Thursday. She later saw a flyer circulated by the university that suggested she would not be allowed to return to campus. Earlier in the day Friday, Davis said the information on the flyer was accurate. He then later specified students' access to campus would not be restricted for now.

Until a KUT reporter told Fakhreddine she could go to campus, she was unsure if she would be able to take her organic chemistry final next week. She doesn’t need the class to graduate, she said, but does need it to apply to medical school.

"This is such good news," she said. "Everyone has been freaking out about [whether they could take] finals."

This story has been updated.

KUT journalists are employees of the University of Texas, but UT has no editorial control over their reporting.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
Lauren McGaughy is an investigative reporter and editor at The Texas Newsroom. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X and Threads @lmcgaughy.
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