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Philly-area pro-Palestinian college students engage in sit-ins, won’t leave until demands met

Want ‘academic leniency’ for the those ‘affected’ by the Gaza war

Pro-Palestinian students at the Philadelphia-adjacent Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges are currently engaged in sit-ins at administrative buildings, with those at the former saying they won’t leave until their demands are met.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Swarthmore President Valerie Smith’s office building currently is home to roughly 50 protesters who claim that, as a Quaker institution, the school “has the moral obligation” to side with the Palestinians against Israel’s “genocide.”

The so-called Swarthmore Palestine Coalition, a coalition of 29 student groups according to The Phoenix, wants President Smith to “condemn Israeli aggression,” “express solidarity with the Palestinian people and Arab, Muslim, and Brown students,” and “mourn the thousands of Palestinians murdered in Gaza.”

The SPC also is demanding a boycott and divestment of Israel in accordance with a 2019 student government resolution, and blanket “protection” from any campus disciplinary measures — especially given the SPC is comprised predominately of first year/low income students and students of color.

“Swarthmore College must drop all disciplinary actions against students for organizing in solidarity with Palestine and refrain from issuing similar disciplinary penalties going forward,” the group declared.

Swarthmore Assistant Vice President of Communications Alisa Giardinelli noted that some students, both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel who “may have violated the college’s conduct,” received disciplinary warning letters — and only after they’d spoken with school officials who “attempted to discourage them from further violations.”

Giardinelli added Swarthmore “must maintain [its] commitment to cultivating an environment free of intimidation, harassment, and discrimination” and would “hold accountable anyone found to be in violation of [its] policies.”

At Haverford, approximately 30 students occupied Founders Hall on Friday and demanded school officials “endorse a ceasefire” in Gaza and “offer academic leniency to those on campus affected by the conflict.”

One Haverford Palestinian student said the Gaza war “does affect me directly — this is my identity, these are my people.” Another “suggested” the sit-in protest would continue into the following semester.

Thus far, no student at either college has been removed from the respective sit-ins.

MORE: Penn loses $100M donation after president’s refusal to condemn calls for anti-Jewish violence

IMAGE: The Philadelphia Inquirer/Facebook

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.