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Pro-Palestinian protesters wearing masks and holding signs stand on stairs near an encampment at the UCLA campus

Pro-Palestinian protesters near an encampment at UCLA on Thursday. The university had declared the camp unlawful, and many protesters were detained.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

The pro-Palestinian protests on many college campuses are dividing opinions—especially between younger and older adults—with nearly half of those responding to a new online survey opposing the demonstrations and a third saying university leaders have not responded harshly enough.

More than a third of adults responding (34 percent) strongly oppose the protests, while another 13 percent are somewhat opposed, according to YouGov, a global opinion and data company based in London. In comparison, 12 percent “strongly support” and 16 percent “somewhat support” the demonstrations, according to the online three-question survey of more than 9,000 adults.

YouGov releases topical, daily questions—including these three—across their social media channels and website. The organization warns people to be cautious with the results, as anyone can answer the question, across multiple platforms, and people with a specific interest in a topic can skew results.

The first survey question, weighing opposition to the protests, showed significant differences when broken down by age, with younger people more sympathetic to the protests. Only 12 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds strongly opposed the protests, while 45 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds and more than half (56 percent) of adults 65 and older were staunchly against them.

Similar patterns appeared in YouGov’s second question, which gauged the reaction to the response of university leaders. Only 11 percent of 18-to 29-year-olds felt the reaction was not harsh enough, with 29 percent saying leaders’ reactions were “just right.” But more than half (55 percent) of those over 65 and 43 percent of those aged 45 to 64 said the response was not harsh enough. Nearly a third (31 percent) of those surveyed were unsure how they felt about it.

People were even less certain about the third question on the issue of university investments in companies with ties to Israel. While some protesters have called for universities to cut ties with these companies, 35 percent of those surveyed said they were “not sure” how they felt about it.

However, nearly as many (32 percent) said selling the investments would be “unjust and infeasible.” That opinion came mainly from the respondents 45 years old and older, with only 14 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds calling it unjust.