Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU Students for Justice in Palestine leads walkout, calls for University divestment and support for Palestinians

Students+participating+in+the+walkout+campaign+organized+by+NU%E2%80%99s+chapter+of+Students+for+Justice+in+Palestine+face+The+Rock.+More+than+150+people+attended+the+protest+condemning+Northwestern%E2%80%99s+response+to+the+Israel-Hamas+war.
Sonya Dymova/The Daily Northwestern
Students participating in the walkout campaign organized by NU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine face The Rock. More than 150 people attended the protest condemning Northwestern’s response to the Israel-Hamas war.

More than 150 students participated in a walkout Wednesday afternoon to demand Northwestern divest from organizations supporting Israel and protect members of the NU community advocating for Palestinian rights.

Protesters at the rally held up signs reading “end Israeli apartheid now.” They chanted “Palestine will never die” and “Northwestern, you can’t hide — you’re paying for genocide.”

The walkout — organized by NU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine — was one of dozens that took place Wednesday on college campuses across North America. The demonstrations called for an end to U.S. military support for Israel and an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, which has killed more than 7,000 people since the militant group Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel more than two weeks ago, according to Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Israeli air raids Tuesday night killed more than 700 Palestinians, marking the highest 24-hour death toll since Israel declared war on Hamas Oct. 7, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas.

“We are demanding that Northwestern divest from these companies that are actively murdering an entire population,” a student organizer who did not identify themself by name said to the crowd. 

The former chief executive officers of several arms-producing companies providing weapons to Israel, including Boeing and General Dynamics, sit on NU’s Board of Trustees.

Several faculty members also attended the walkout to show their support.

Asian American studies and Black studies Prof. Nitasha Tamar Sharma, the director of the Asian American Studies Program, said the walkout was a “source of comfort” for her.

“I particularly appreciate them calling Schill out,” she said. “(AASP) and many students have written responses to his non-response.”

NU President Michael Schill said in an Oct. 12 message to the community the University would not issue a statement on the Israel-Hamas conflict and defended institutional neutrality against criticisms in an Oct. 13 email. In both messages, Schill expressed his personal opinion and condemned the actions of Hamas. He did not condemn those of the Israeli military.

AASP released an open letter to Schill calling for University leadership to express greater empathy for Palestinian civilians and Palestinian and Arab Americans in the NU community in future communications. Sharma said Schill did not reply.

NU SJP asked all walkout participants to wear masks to protect themselves from being identified. Some protesters also blocked the cameras of journalists and passersby.

According to organizers, some NU community members who have spoken in support of Palestine — including AASP faculty and members of the NU Community for Human Rights— have had their personal information leaked and been subject to online threats and harassment.

“The president, the administrators, care nothing about this,” the protester said. “Why are we not taking action to protect students, protect faculty that are harmed?”

Several members of the Division of Student Affairs — including Dean of Students and Vice President for Wellness Mona Dugo — were present at the protest. 

Dugo said she and her colleagues attended as an “event support team” to ensure that the protest remained safe. 

“We’re here for any de-escalation and out of concern for our campus right now, which feels like a tinderbox,” Dugo said. 

The walkout comes two weeks after a vigil organized by SJP to express solidarity with Palestine and grieve lives lost in Gaza and another vigil earlier that week organized by Jewish students to mourn lives lost in the war.

At the end of the protest, organizers asked attendees to scan a QR code which allowed them to ask Congress to stop funding Israel through a call or email.

“The students are saying that we demand a response,” Sharma said. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: joyycee_li

Related Stories: 

Northwestern deans issue statements on Israel-Hamas war

Students for Justice in Palestine hosts vigil to honor lives lost in Gaza this week

Northwestern Jewish community hosts vigil to honor lives lost in Israel-Hamas war

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