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Photo by Leo Brainard

Student-Led Activism Continues to Surge in the Bi-Co

By: Zhao Gu Gammage and Paeton Smith-Hiebert

Even after Fall Break, student activism following the Oct. 7 escalation of the Israel-Gaza war remained unabated within the Bi-Co, with a teach-in, sit-in, and walk out.

At Haverford, as well as college campuses across the country, there has been a marked surge in on-campus activism since October 7. While certain events aim to increase awareness about political developments in the Middle East, most of these demonstrations are a direct reaction to the Bi-Co administrations’ response to the war.

Photo by Leo Brainard

Yesterday, there was a 12-hour sit-in at Bryn Mawr to reiterate the demands from the Bi-Co chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), At the start of the event, SJP put up posters with the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a phrase which some consider anti-Semitic. The posters were promptly taken down by Bryn Mawr administration, who justified their actions under the campus poster policy.  

The sit-in started around 8:30am and was outside of President Kim Cassidy’s office and within the first few hours, President Cassidy addressed the protestors, stating that “[Bryn Mawr College administration] respond[s] to dialogue, not demands.”

Photo by Zhao Gu Gammage

Outside, ABC and CBS recorded students chanting the slogan and interviewed student activists. SJP also started their two-day bake sale fundraiser for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, attended a lunch with staff from the Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and North African (MECANA) Studies, and hosted a discussion with Professor Rubina Salikuddin, director of the program.

Later that day at Haverford, senior Ally Landau hosted her own teach-in on Israel-Palestine. 

Photo by Zhao Gu Gammage

“I was a bit aggravated by the administration’s response and that made me want to host a bit more of a discussion and provide my perspective on things,” she shared. “In regards to Hamas, they did not clarify that it was a terrorist organization.” 

Landau, a Jewish American, first presented on the history of the Jewish people, starting from the third century BCE up to the recent attacks. After the history, she opened up for questions from the audience and engaged in dialogue with another student.

“A lot of other people have tried to avoid the topic with me because they know l might not see eye to eye with them,” explained Landau. “l’m hoping that hearing this presentation allowed them to see that l’m willing to have more of a dialogue so hopefully that’ll spur some more conversation.” 

In addition to yesterday’s events, students also organized a walkout last week. On Wednesday October 25 at noon, a few hundred students converged on Founders Hall to present their list of demands to the student body.

Photo from Bi-Co Students for Justice in Palestine’s Instagram Story

The walk out began when student organizers from SJP shared their thoughts on the administration’s response to the Israel-Gaza war, and read aloud their list of demands to the student body. 

Halfway through the rally, protestors moved to occupy President Raymond’s office in Founders Hall, chanting phrases of Palestinian liberation as they flooded into the foyer. 

“I loved the spirit of spontaneity,” said one organizer, MK, who asked to remain anonymous for their safety. “I organized and spoke at the event because as a Jew and an American, I cannot let this happen in my name and with my taxes … I was so moved by the solidarity demonstrated at the event.”

After an eventful week, Landau remains hopeful. “On October 7, when it all took place, it was an extremely emotional time,” she shared. “Myself, along with many other people, have friends and family living in the area, and a lot of my friends were impacted … I’m glad that Haverford is taking it upon themself to take a stand. I’m glad that we’re able to converse with each other.”

Reporting by Zhao Gu Gammage and Cade Fanning

Correction: This article originally stated that the Bryn Mawr sit-in started in response to Bryn Mawr administration taking down posters. The sit-in did not start in response to the Bryn Mawr administration taking down posters. The Clerk deeply regrets the error.

Correction: This article originally stated “the October 7 attacks in Gaza.” This depiction was not accurate. The Clerk deeply regrets the error.

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