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How Has Student Activism Spread Across the Globe?

by Sadia Khan

“How blessed are we to study at an institution that supports our views and morally knows right from wrong?” – said no student ever. 

The disappointment of learning a place we called home for years of our lives is funding a genocide is palpable. Change needs to occur, and students are holding themselves responsible for creating this change.

On April 17th, students in New York set up an encampment outside the University of Columbia, demanding Palestinian liberation, for those in power to call for a ceasefire, and for their universities to divest their endowment ties with Israel. 

Whilst protests have intensified since the attack on the Gaza Strip in October, a university professor who called the police for the arrestment of students has taken the divide to a new level.

Students who are used to having their voices silenced by those more powerful are now being treated like criminals for fighting on behalf of human justice for those across the globe. 

Every Palestinian child, teen, and student who will never get to go to university because of the unjust massacres that have been taking place need this solidarity, they need us to fight for their cause. 

Spreading from Columbia, universities in the US began following swiftly after with its students going into encampments, eating one meal a day, and sleeping in tents outside their campus, to get just a portion of what it feels like to be a Palestinian suffering. Students have risked their careers and their futures by getting suspended, expelled, and being revoked of privileges they once had at their institution simply because they are fighting a necessary cause. 

What we see is a fight for human rights, yet, to some people, it is seen as a disgrace. Including House Speaker Mike Johnson, who has ordered for “law and order on campus,” in an attempt to shut down these protests.

Armed police forces, suspensions, and lack of food and supplies are not enough to stop the student movement. 

Despite these threats, protests have spread across the globe, with students in the UK starting their encampments too. 

From London to Sheffield, protests have taken place almost every day in support of the Palestinians suffering every day.

Whilst we keep the people of Palestine the focus of these protests, students are campaigning for fellow students who are at a disadvantage due to this. 

Dana Abuqamar is one of many who has had their student visas revoked due to speaking up for Palestine. Dana expressed how she was ‘proud’ of Palestine at a protest back in October, and now is suffering consequences from the government. 

The University of Sheffield has reported taking investments totalling tens of millions of pounds in the last decade and that they have received more defence funding than any other higher education institution in the UK. Students are demanding they call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and that they be held accountable for their funding, as well as divest their arms manufacturers. 

No university has yet agreed to the demands of calling for a ceasefire and withdrawing their endowments, perhaps hoping the protests will lessen day by day themselves. This has not been the case as we see a month after it has started, students and even now graduates are still holding strong.

It is easy to conclude that these protests are meaningless and will lead to no change. Yet we see numbers growing, and frustration within university institutions. Police being called constantly is a clear sign of deflection from the Institutions involved in trying to tame the numbers involved and lessen their impact. 

With 36 camps as of May 31st and more appearing everyday across England, Wales, and Scotland, each standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza, it is clear that change is on its way. Consistency pays off and Palestine will be liberated with this support.

Edited by Emily Duff

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