Over 100 anti-Israel protesters at the University of Michigan marched through various campus buildings this past week to demand “immediate” divestment from Israel and to “mourn Palestinians killed” in the Hamas-Israel war.
The “New Year, No Rest” protest, organized by the campus chapters of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) and Muslim Students Association among others, walked through a chemistry lab and kinesiology building before concluding at the Michigan Union, The Michigan Daily reports.
SAFE President Salma Hamamy told protest attendees that the nascent 2024 “cannot distract” people from the violence in “Palestine,” saying “I cannot look at a calendar and say that we have begun something new […] my calendar says that it’s been 95 days of one of the most horrific genocides in modern history.”
Hamamy added “As we begin this new semester, our determination to remain on the side of Gaza will always outweigh and prevail our moments of despair.”
SAFE also accused UMich of bias against pro-Palestinian organizations. The group’s director of activism, Zaynab Elkolaly, claimed “Muslim and brown organizations have to jump through hoops” to get university officials’ attention.
Social Work major and protest attendee Ariana Gonzalez said she participated in the march to “show […] support for the Palestinian peoples and all of the colonized nations around the world.” She noted she herself comes from a “colony,” Puerto Rico.
Elkolaly said though she is disappointed in the U-M administration’s response, she believes this lack of communication from the University has only strengthened their cause.
“The one benefit from the absolutely absurd response that we’ve received from administration is that it calls people to action,” Elkolaly said. “It demonstrates just how dire the situation on campus is and it draws a lot of people who might be sympathetic, who might not even know what’s going on. It prompts them to start thinking about it and once they know all the facts, they come to our aid, our side, whatever you want to call it. I think the collective anger is a big driving force behind our numbers in the demonstrations that we do.”
UMich spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen took issue with Elkolaly’s claim about communication with school administrators, saying officials “have met with student leaders from SAFE and members of the coalition last semester …”
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