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The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

Semester restarts with a walkout demonstration

Sabine Benda
Students occupied Anderson Center with flags and posters after walking out of class in protest of the crisis in Gaza.

Students walked out of class in an organized demonstration calling for justice in Palestine midday of the first day of classes following spring break. Students who participated in the walkout chanted and carried signs in a march around campus that culminated outside Anderson Center with speeches from student activists.

The coalition, called Students for Justice (SFJ), organized the walkout that met on Alumni Way after students who chose to leave their classes gathered for the march and rally that followed. Marching went around the Hamline campus, across the street to pass the Klas Center before turning and looping around Old Main, arriving at the campus entrance to Anderson Center where certain students gave speeches and called on their peers, staff and faculty inside Anderson to pay the protest attention.

Following the rally, students occupied Anderson to further call attention to the cause, including the space where Starbucks resides. Many pro-Palestinian activists have chosen to boycott Starbucks after the company sued Workers United, a union of Starbucks employees, after the group posted “Solidarity with Palestine!” on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. Students also occupied the dining hall, the outer balcony and the first floor common spaces with Palestinian flags and signs calling for peace in Palestine amidst Anderson’s decorations for Ramadan.

Calls for cease-fire

While Hamline students chanted “cease-fire now,” Israeli negotiators traveled to Qatar for another round of cease-fire talks, according to New York Times reporting. The reporting clarifies that the talks are aiming for a 42-day cease-fire pause in exchange for a release of hostages, and that up to this point, Israeli officials have rejected demands for a “comprehensive cease-fire.”

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Threats of starvation in Gaza with minimal aid being supplied in addition to facing continuous attacks have intensified international reactions to the crisis, including from political allies of Israel. President Biden, who has been outspoken in his support of Israel, was recorded following his State of the Union address telling Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado that he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they were going to have “a come to Jesus meeting” regarding the crisis. Biden has also called on the United States Department of Defense to build a temporary pier on the coast of Gaza to deliver aid.

Inside of Anderson Center, Ramadan decorations hung while protestors outside the building made speeches and chanted in a protest of the crisis in Gaza. (Sabine Benda)

Facing crisis during Ramadan

The walkout organized by the SFJ follows the coalition’s first protest that occurred the Thursday before Hamline’s spring break but is the first action for Palestinian advocacy on the Hamline campus since Ramadan has begun. Ramadan is the holiest month of the year on the Muslim calendar, and is observed with a commitment and appreciation for the faith. A practice that many Muslims observe during Ramadan is fasting from sun-up to sun-down. Speakers at the walkout emphasized the additional hardship that Palestinian Muslims are facing in their commitment to fasting amidst what the United Nations has declared as “imminent” famine in northern Gaza.

What comes next

Hamline Undergraduate Student Congress (HUSC) passed a resolution before spring break calling for the administration to make a public message of support for a cease-fire in Gaza as well as for the university to divest from Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS)-identified companies. The Hamline administration has not made public statements about the crisis, or set any precedent for what systemic backlash students, staff or faculty members potentially face for pro-Palestine related speech or activism. At HUSC’s General Assembly meeting on March 5, Dean of Students Patti Klein-Kersten addressed an upcoming SFJ protest only to remind students of the policy structures the university has in place for students to organize protests.
The SFJ has announced weekly protests during Thursday convo hour that will begin outside of Anderson Center.

A march of students who walked out of class in solidarity with the crisis in Gaza held signs and chanted around the Hamline campus. (Sabine Benda)

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