The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

Wednesday Walkout: Clarkies Show Support for Ongoing Crisis in Palestine

Leo Kerz

Over 200 Clark community members gathered in Red Square to protest the occupation and oppression of Palestine and the Palestinian people by Israel on October 25. The walkout lasted for about an hour and included a variety of programming. 

The demonstration was part of a larger national protest at colleges and universities. Clark University student leaders organized and provided structure for the protest, sandwiching chants of “Free Palestine” and “From the land to the sea, Palestine will be free” with speeches from Clark students.

The content of the speeches ranged from brief historical background on the conflict to comments by alumni urging students to speak out against the atrocities being committed during the war in Gaza and Israel. One student identifying with Clark’s Muslim community discussed the history of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Palestine is “the world’s largest open-air prison,” they said, and argued that the crisis constitutes an outright genocide of the Palestinian people. 

A student from the Jewish community told the crowd that criticizing Israel is not antisemitic and called out Hillel International for its role in promoting Zionism on college campuses. 

A striking story that was shared during the speech portion of the protest was that of a woman in Gaza who asked the media if the people of the world saw what was happening in Palestine and, if they did, why they weren’t taking action. Another student told the crowd that they had recently been stopped in University Park by someone asking where they were from – an assumption made, the student said, because of their appearance. That confrontation made them feel unsafe, they said. A series of poems were read to finish out the hour, and participants were urged to take further action by attending more demonstrations and continuing to speak out.

Although most of the crowd seemed to be there to show support for Palestine, some people were present just to observe. 

Soon after the protest began, a crew from Channel 7 News set up at the main gates of the university. One interviewee that appeared on TV that evening was Steven Schimmel, from the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts. “Less than three weeks ago, there was a bloody, brutal, blood curdling attack on the citizens of Israel,” said Schimmel. “Really, this is quite an aggressive group. That hurts,” he said of the student protestors.

The protest was organized in part by two student organizations: the Middle Eastern and North African Student Association (MENASA) and Jews Givin’ a Fuck, or JGAF. At the protest, the groups announced their demand that Clark University divest from weapons manufacturers contributing to the war effort. They are also seeking a “follow-up statement from the University President’s Office acknowledging Palestine and the thousands of Palestinian civilian martyrs since October 7,” according to a joint post on Instagram. 

The University has yet to provide a response to student demands. In a statement provided to Channel 7 News, however, Clark did say that they “have worked intently to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of our students and provide the support they need.”

Many students at the protest wore surgical masks as a security measure. Students at other protests, including those at Harvard, have faced serious backlash for speaking out. According to The Crimson, so many Harvard students have been doxxed and harassed for signing onto a public letter in support of Palestine, that the University has formed a task force to support them.

Students continue to protest and show support for Palestine, with a demonstration that took place Sunday, Oct. 2. It was organized in part by local mosques in conjunction with Clark students. Demonstrators walked to City Hall to demand acknowledgement of the Palestinian genocide and an open dialogue with the City of Worcester about the increase in Islamophobic and antisemitic hate crimes. In total, around 400 people were present. 

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