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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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Students protest in front of Tech, demand NU divest from companies with ties to Israel

Sonya Dymova/The Daily Northwestern
Student protesters lay in front of the Technological Institute Thursday morning. Students walking to and from class stepped around or over the protesters, while some stopped to observe or film the event.

Content warning: This article contains mentions of violence and photographs of fake blood.

About 25 students gathered in front of the Technological Institute Thursday morning demanding Northwestern divest from organizations supporting the Israeli military in its ongoing war with Hamas.

Students lay across the walkway into the building wearing blood-red paint on their clothing, holding signs and participating in call-and-response chants. For about two hours, chants like “our tuition is funding genocide” and “our board of trustees should not profit on war” filled the air at the protest hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine.

Several members of NU’s Board of Trustees have served as executives at companies that supply arms to Israel, including Boeing and General Dynamics.

“We should not work with companies that sell arms to places like Israel and other aggressors,” one masked chant leader, who did not identify themself, said to the crowd.

In the month since the militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel Oct. 7, the Israeli military has responded with a continuous bombardment, blockade and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, while more than 1,400 Israelis were killed in the initial attack with at least 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli and Palestinian authorities

Bienen sophomore Alex Neuser participated in the protest to show solidarity for the cause of Palestinian freedom, he said.

Neuser, a member of Fossil Free NU, said they see a connection between the club and SJP, citing settler colonialism as one of the main drivers of climate change. Neuser said he has learned through Fossil Free NU about the University’s financial interests.

“This is a university where we all come here to learn, and it’s kind of clear to me that the University is operated as an investment firm first and an educational place of learning second,” Neuser said.

Representatives from the University’s event support team were also present. The representatives said they attended the protest to make sure the protesters were safe and other students were able to go to classes in Tech without disruption.

Most students walked around the protesters, but some stepped over them and others stopped to observe or film them.

Chiao-Wei Hsu, a graduate student in computer science, stopped to film the protest. He said he plans to post the video to his Facebook.

He said he empathizes with Palestinians because he’s from Taiwan, a small island that has been governed independently of China since 1949. With tensions on the rise, Taiwan is currently edging toward territorial conflict with China, which views the country as part of its territory.

“I don’t have a specific position on this issue because it’s really, really complicated,” he said. “I just hope everything is going to settle down quickly and without more bloodshed. I really hope for more peace for the world.”

SJP held a walkout calling for similar divestment goals on Oct. 26, two weeks after both SJP and a group of Jewish students organized separate vigils to mourn lives lost in the war. Hundreds of NU students and Evanston residents also held one of many rallies around the world calling for a ceasefire in Gaza Saturday, and a rally in downtown Evanston the following day organized by local Jewish and Israeli communities called for the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

Protesters on Thursday called out University President Michael Schill by name in their chants. Schill and other University administrators released a statement to the NU community on Saturday saying it would not tolerate “violence, intimidation, threats, Islamophobia or antisemitism.”

“We can be passionate about our beliefs while also being compassionate to those with whom we disagree,” the statement read.

SJP has also criticized two statements released by Schill last month stating that the University would not take an official stance on the war.

Jillian Dudley, a Communication freshman who stopped to watch the protest, said she supports the idea of a ceasefire and hopes to join SJP.

Dudley said amid stress and fear about the conflict, she feels hopeful that protests happening across the country will have an impact.

“I think what they’re doing here, especially at this huge institution, is really going to be very impactful,” she said. “It shows that students do have a voice and they should be heard.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @SQPowers04

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