Ben Raab, Contributing Photographer

Following a demonstration on Friday morning where students unfurled a 60-foot banner in front of Woodbridge Hall, one student took the banner down — with permission from a University administrator. 

Students at the demonstration Friday morning called on the University to divest from weapons manufacturers. The banner they unfurled read “Yale Corp Divest From Weapons” and displayed the names of thousands of Palestinians killed in the Israel-Hamas war.  

In a video obtained by the News, assistant vice president for university life Pilar Montalvo said it would be “fine” for the student to take down the banner when the student approached her to ask. In another video the News obtained, the student removed the poster from the door of Woodbridge Hall and rolled it up.

“The organizers of Friday’s actions are deeply disheartened that we were unable to peacefully mourn the thousands of lives that have been lost to the crisis in Gaza,” Aly Moosa ’25, an organizer for both the  Friday morning demonstration and afternoon rally, wrote to the News. 

In an email to the News on Dec. 3, Montalvo wrote that the students who initially put up the banner had asked officials if they could put it up but were given “incorrect information about where it could be posted.” Montalvo also wrote that there were “administrative errors” in allowing the poster to go up and in its removal. 

She further said that the banner was in her possession and it would be returned to student leaders on Dec. 4. 

“I should have removed the poster myself rather than allowing a student to do so,” Montalvo wrote to the News. 

The demonstration came over a month after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing at least 1,200 people and taking 240 as hostages, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Israel responded with airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, killing more than 15,500 Palestinians, according to figures from the Gazan Health Ministry, the Associated Press reported on Dec. 3. The AP called the December death tolls a “sharp jump” from the previous Nov. 20 count of over 13,300 killed, reporting in November that officials in the Hamas-controlled region have only been able to sporadically update the count since Nov. 11 and fear thousands more might be dead under the rubble. 

The AP also reported that the death toll in Gaza is probably higher, as officials in the Hamas-controlled region have infrequently updated the count since Nov. 11 and fear that thousands more are dead. 

The Friday demonstration also followed the end of a seven-day pause in fighting, which began on Nov. 24 and was initiated to allow for the release of some of the hostages taken in Hamas’ terror attack and to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, according to the Associated Press. That ceasefire ended in the early hours of Dec. 1, as Israel resumed combat in Gaza after claiming that Hamas had violated the ceasefire’s terms by firing toward Israeli territory. 

After students put up the banner, according to student organizers, they made an agreement with the Yale Police Department for officers to take the banner down at their discretion later in the day. Following the demonstration, the officers present said that the banner could not remain up indefinitely and that officers would return the banner to the organizers.

In the video of the student speaking with Montalvo, the student asked Montalvo if there was anything that prohibited him from taking down the poster given that Woodbridge is not an “active building.” 

In response, Montalvo initially referred the student to the Yale College Undergraduate Regulations.  

“I don’t think that we encourage students to take down other student’s posters,” Montalvo said in the video. “Usually what happens is we would prefer students to put up their own posters as opposed to taking down.” 

Later in the video, the student confirms with Montalvo that she told him that Woodbridge Hall is an “active building.”

While the News could not find any mention of “active building” in the undergraduate regulations, the Yale College Undergraduate Regulations, in Section I, outlines that students are prohibited from blocking or obstructing doorways, for fire safety and other operational reasons, and from hanging posters or similar items on undesignated spaces including exterior walls and doors. Instead, according to the regulations, posters should be confined to bulletin boards, kiosks, display cases and other “spaces that Yale College has specifically designated for postering.”

At the end of the conversation with the student, Montalvo said it would be “fine” if the student were to remove the poster. 

Per the policy, only authorized staff members may remove posters from bulletin boards and other designated spaces. The policy also states that posters will be removed once per week and that posters that are “improperly placed” such as on interior or exterior walls “will be subject to immediate removal.”

The policy also states that the “removal, defacing, destroying or postering over of existing posters is prohibited” but does not specify if this is only for posters in “designated spaces” or all posters.

Yale police Lieutenant Jay Jones told the News on Friday morning, after students first put up the banner, that officers would allow the banner to remain as long as it did not block entry and exit to the building — which he said would be a fire hazard. 

Woodbridge Hall is located at 105 Wall St.

Correction, Dec. 4: This article has been updated to include a more current estimate of Palestinians killed, reflecting Dec. 3 reporting from the Associated Press. 

Tristan Hernandez is the 147th Editor in Chief and President of the Yale Daily News. He previously served as a copy editor and covered student policy & affairs and student life for the University desk. Originally from Austin, Texas, he is a junior in Pierson College majoring in political science.
Ben Raab covers faculty and academics at Yale and writes about the Yale men's basketball team. Originally from New York City, Ben is a sophomore in Pierson college pursuing a double major in history and political science.