At noon on Friday, HWS students and faculty gathered outside of Scandling Student Center to protest against violence in Gaza amidst the Israeli-Hamas War. In the rain and cold, they held signs, participated in chants, and heard from fellow students.
“Today I stand before you not only as [a student] on campus, but also as a witness to the oppression and tyranny that has long impacted my homeland and people,” one student speaker began their remarks. “In 2015 I saw my friend […] get shot in the neck and taken from the [ground] right next to me.”
The event was filled with emotion, from hope for the money raised by UNICEF for civilians trapped in Gaza, to grief over the lives lost, to outrage over the global and American responses to the war.
Another speaker insisted, “We cannot go on like everything is normal when we are facing a genocide our country is complicit in!” and further insisted that, “Oftentimes we are comforted by the idea that we are not responsible for the actions of our forefathers, but we are responsible now! […] The world is nearly in our hands, and we must act responsibly to protect the rights of human beings everywhere.”
The protest, lasting close to 30 minutes, came about in response to a national call to action that went out Wednesday night and was largely organized that evening. The demonstrators made up a body of around 50 or 60 people. Those that attended were supplied with premade signs and Palestinian flags to help them show support. They were joined by a representative from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and members of the Geneva Women’s Assembly.
Nevertheless, it remained a student-led protest.
“By gathering here today, we are telling HWS that their students stand for Palestine. We offer our solidarity. We condemn the acts of Israel and imperial forces that have led to over 11,000 deaths of innocent people and children. We call for a cease-fire to stop the killing of innocent civilians, the forced displacement of an entire people, and the ethnic cleansing of Gaza,” the leader of the protest announced. They continued, “I call upon our student body, I call upon everyone here to continue to fight for the liberation of Palestine. To allow this rally to be the starting point in a collective raising of consciousness and to not let it end here. Free Palestine!”
When asked about their most immediate goals for the protest, the student who organized it responded that it had two primary purposes:
The first was to raise awareness of the support that exists on campus for Palestinian civilians in danger. “It has shocked me that there has been no call-to-action from our student body since the October 7th attacks.”
The second was to call upon HWS to reveal its private investments and, if necessary, pull any funding that could in any way be supporting the Israeli military effort.
As for the rally’s turnout, the protest leader replied, “I’m hopeful […] This is a wonderful start to something I’m hoping to continue on campus indefinitely.”
*Grammatical changes and edits for clarity were corrected by the Editorial Board after initial publication. All content in the piece remains unchanged.