Dozens of pro-Palestinian students set up tents at UC Irvine early Monday, calling for the university to divest itself from Israeli businesses, joining a movement that’s reached colleges across the country.

About 50 protesters surrounded roughly a dozen tents set up in a plaza near the Physical Sciences Classroom building, chanting “free Palestine.” Some said they plan to host several speakers later today and stay in the tents overnight overnight.

A bystander, Amal Alkalla, an Irvine resident and mother of a UC Irvine student, said she was on hand to ensure that the students taking action are safe.

“The goal is for this country to be a true broker for peace,” Alkalla said.

At one point, after being told that the encampment might might be cleared as soon as Monday night, protesters called on UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman’s office to “politely and firmly demand” that they stop they termed a “heavy-handed” plan.

A list of demands posted on a sign at the encampment said the students want UCI to divest investment in Israeli businesses, and that they want full transparency and control of future investments.

By mid-morning, campus police were scattered around the encampment and watching the protestors. University employees throughout the morning set up barricades that pushed foot traffic away from where the tents were set up, but those were later removed.

By erecting tents, protesters were stepping up a demonstration that began last week. On Friday, hundreds of students demonstrated at UCI, asking for the school to cut its financial ties with Israel.

The University of California system in a Friday statement said it opposed calls for  divestment from Israel.