University of New Hampshire President James Dean said Monday morning his decision to clear encampment-building protesters from campus last week was the right one, and his administration was ready for another round of anti-Israel protests.

Protest organizers like the Palestine Solidarity Coalition (PSC) don’t agree, accusing UNH of silencing dissent and demanding Dean’s resignation.

“I think our response was appropriate,” Dean told WFEA radio’s Drew Cline, noting that anti-Israel activists had held seven previous protests at UNH without a problem. Not this time, he said.

“We worked with people who had the permit for the protest over the weeks and hours before the protest started. They told us over and over again that there would be no encampment, that it would just be the same kind of protest that we’ve had seven times before.

“It wasn’t true,” Dean said.

Instead, protesters were part of a coordinated effort to get an encampment built on the UNH campus.

“People had made preparations with both food and medicine but also rocks and sticks that were inside the encampment that they tried to build. It would not be consistent with campus safety for us to allow people to create that sort of an encampment,” Dean said.

“If we had allowed that to go on,  as a lot of people want us to do, right now I’d be looking across the street at that tent encampment, with commencement ceremonies coming up next week and no way to get rid of them.”

The protests, disorder, and chaos on campus — featuring antisemitic slogans and attacks on Israel — have become a political issue in New Hampshire and at the national level.

Gov. Chris Sununu and his fellow Republicans have denounced the antisemitism they say is inspiring the protests, as well as the threats (and sometimes violence) that have been directed at Jewish students on American campuses.

Granite State Democrats, on the other hand, have been largely silent. The two best-known candidates for governor, former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor, have refused to respond to repeated requests for comment from NHJournal, and they also declined to appear on camera with WMUR to answer questions about the protests.

The third Democrat, former Newmarket Town Councilor (and owner of  Jonny Boston’s International), told WMUR he was at last week’s UNH protests. “I wanted to hear what the students were saying and I really wanted to learn, you know, honestly, if there were antisemitic vibes going on.”

His conclusion? “Honestly, I didn’t hear anything antisemitic at all.”

Sununu, on the other hand, has said “One hundred percent, this is pure antisemitism,” and he’s urged the Democrats who want to replace him to “have a backbone and do what’s right.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen says she agrees with Sununu that “antisemitism has been a part” of the motivation for protests on campuses in New Hampshire, and she praised how the police handled illegal protests at UNH and Dartmouth.

Representatives for the PSC did not respond to a request for comment.

Before Monday’s protest, a group of UNH students who support Israel and disagree with the protesters told NHJournal they planned to be out at the protest as well, waving American flags and expressing their views.

“It is time to stand up to Hamas sympathizers,” said UNH student Sam Farrington. “We are proud to be Americans.”

Dean expressed his sorrow over last week’s events.

“I just really am heartbroken that our students — either they lied to us or someone lied to them,” Dean said of their assurances no encampment would be built. “I’m not sure which it is. They told us that this would not happen, and then it happened. So either they knew that they weren’t telling the truth, or someone deceived them and came in and took over their rally.

“Either way, it’s very sad because the events that happened last week are very regrettable.”