Today: Jun 17, 2024

Students lead ‘Wednesday Walkout’ on campus

Jay’Mi Vazquez – News Editor

“Free, free Palestine.” 

These were some of the words chanted during a peaceful protest that took place on Oct. 25. There were around 70 people consisting of students, alumni and faculty who marched from the academic quad to the resident quad to support Palestine and Palestinian students. 

“If we don’t protest for Palestine, we are taking the side of the oppressor. At an educational institution we should be asking ourselves why we don’t talk about Palestine. More specifically, a ‘wannabe’ social justice institution should not be staying silent about Palestine,” said Andi, a sociology and political science majoring and senior. 

“It is important because the Palestinian people are dying and hardly anyone is talking about it, and when they do, it’s seen as if the Palestinian people are the threat when in fact that’s not true. Last time I checked, over 7,000 Palestinian people had died since October 7, due to the violence,” said social work major  Mellody Massaquoi , a senior. 

Andi and Massaquoi were some of the students who led the protest. They said the importance of this protest was to create a conversation about Palestine that the university has yet to have. Andi said they are disappointed in the university’s ability to address the events in Palestine and the Palestinian students who attend the university. 

“Attending this university has disappointed me. Every time I open up an app, I see dying Palestinian children, fathers and mothers and it makes me wonder why Southern does not say Palestine,” Andi said. “Are we watching the same news? Does Southern not care about actively erasing the existence of Palestinian students on campus?” 

“When that email went out that mentioned the violence happening since October 7, they didn’t acknowledge Palestine in any meaningful way. All that was said was the “many innocent lives in Israel and Gaza” to quote and that was it,” Massaquoi said.  

Massaquoi said that the occupation of Palestine is not a new topic. It has a history of 75 years, deep, with colonialism, genocide after genocide, and attack after attack happening against the Palestinian people.  

Andi said that they do not feel supported at the university. They said that they would have felt mildly supported if the university at least mentioned Palestine in their statement regarding Israel and Palestine.  

“I would’ve felt mildly supported if Southern did the bare minimum and mentioned Palestine in their statement. I think Southern and all institutions should be doing more to educate faculty and staff about current events and de-escalation tactics,” Andi said. “There is no reason why I should be quitting my university job because my boss yelled at me for asking a simple question: ’Why can’t you say Palestine?’ I would have felt supported if they were closer to the crowd and chanted with us instead of observing the demonstration from the background.” 

“I think the students that were there we very passionate about the cause, but our school has hundreds of students, so why didn’t they come? I think time will tell when it comes to how the school ultimately reacts but for right now, no I don’t think there’s a lot of support,” Massaquoi said. 

Andi does not want this protest to be considered harmful to any other students or organizations on campus. They just wanted to create a protest open for anyone to come and support to make university administrators talk about Palestine in a correct, factually accurate and sincere way. 

“This protest was planned with a lot of thought, heart and soul. We didn’t make this protest to spew hate towards Jewish people nor did we do this to be anti-Semitic, but we did this out of love for the Palestinian people and hurt from our university’s lack of action,” Massaquoi said. 

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