‘Students, faculty, and staff at Stony Brook University demand an end to the siege on Gaza’
Stony Brook University officials and student activists rallied on Thursday in support of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Organizers of the walk-out and rally at the public university on Long Island included the Muslim Student Association and Stony Brook University Peace Action.
“Students, faculty, and staff at Stony Brook University demand an end to the siege on Gaza,” one Instagram post from the Muslim student group stated. The Instagram posts were shared via email from at least one dean.
“There is a recent call for a walkout today at 2pm. Please share as you deem appropriate,” Dean Andrew Singer of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences wrote in an email obtained by The College Fix.
The email appeared to be forwarded from Ric McClendon, the assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students. McClendon told the student newspaper he was attending to support students.
He “attended the protest but declined to answer specific questions, stating that he was ‘just there to support the students,'” The Statesman reported.
Others were outspoken in their support for the cause. More than 100 people attended the protest march at 12:30 p.m. A walk-out of classes followed at 2 p.m. This is not the first protest since the fighting began on Oct. 7.
“The absolute bare minimum is to speak up and raise awareness about the illegal occupation and the brutal diminishing of Palestine,” the Muslim Student Association wrote on Instagram ahead of an “EMERGENCY PROTEST” on Oct. 18.
“From the river to the sea, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE,” the group also wrote.
While supporters dispute that the slogan calls for the end to Israel, a past leader of Hamas has used it. “By 2012, it was clear that Hamas had claimed the slogan in its drive to claim land spanning Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” the Associated Press reportedly recently. “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north,” Khaled Mashaal, the former Hamas leader said in 2012. “There will be no concession on any inch of the land.”
“Faculty and high-ranking Stony Brook officials, such as Stony Brook’s Vice President for Student Affairs Rick Gatteau, showed their support for the Stony Brook community by standing with the students as they voiced their concerns throughout the protest,” the student newspaper reported.
Students were instructed to walk out of class at 2 p.m, hold up signs listing demands, chant “Free Palestine,” and were asked not to engage with “counter-protesters.”
Activists were also told not to bring “displays and/or chants with discriminatory sentiment and hate speech towards a group of people based on race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.”
Activists were also asked to avoid bringing any weapons or items that could be turned into weapons and not to fight with other people.
The university’s provost, Carl Lejuez, also asked faculty to be “thoughtful” in managing their class but also wrote that faculty should treat students equally to other absences.
“The University has no plans to broadly cancel classes or other activities. Individual faculty and instructors have the discretion to make decisions regarding student absences from their classes at the time of the event, consistent with how you would count absences in other instances,” he wrote in an email obtained by The Fix.
“We encourage faculty and instructors to use your best judgment, and be thoughtful in how you manage your class, balancing students’ rights to free speech and maintaining a productive classroom environment,” the provost told faculty. “Students are responsible for material covered in class as well as completing assignments on time and attending examinations in a given class period.”
He said students should work with their professors to make up for the missed material, assignments, and exams.
Unib Awan, an organizer of the rally, thanked the university and professors.
“I was very pleasantly surprised at the turnout and of the unity, and props have to be given to the university itself who cleared this protest and coordinated with us [the participants],” Awan said, according to the campus newspaper.
“A lot of professors were very supportive and told me they [would] be attending. I am very happy with what I saw today.”
IMAGES: Stony Brook University Muslim Student Association/Instagram; Green boxes added by The College Fix