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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students walk out with Palestine Solidarity Committee

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Katie Bergelin
Students gather with signs at a walkout on Dallas Hall lawn.

Students and members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee [PSC] at SMU walked out of classes on Dallas Lawn on Wednesday, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. 

With an initial crowd of around 35 protestors, by half-past noon, the crowd had grown to 90 people as more keffiyehs and sign-bearers materialized by a rough count from The Daily Campus. 

Students, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, gathered during the walkout to protest for a ceasefire. (Grace Bair)

However, police officers in attendance estimated closer to 75 participants. According to a STABLE request for the event made by PSC organizers, police officers were told there would be 100 participants.

“We’re here to demand a ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire, because a lot of students feel, especially Palestinian and Arab students, feel we are not being heard,” Sally, an Executive Board Member of PSC and one of the protest leaders said. “We want to make it clear that we haven’t forgotten what’s happening in Gaza.”

In a pre-written media statement, the Palestine Solidarity Committee urged the Dallas City Council and Southern Methodist University to take action.

“We call upon the Dallas City Council to pass a ceasefire resolution that calls for the end of the murder of the Gazan people,” the statement said. “We call upon our university officials to publicly condemn this brutal massacre.” 

During the approximately hour and a half-long protest, supporters followed a call-and-response chant led by event organizers. The chant demanded a ceasefire in Palestine, charged the Israeli Prime Minister and U.S. President Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden with genocide, and called for support of Gaza and its inhabitants.

One protestor, SMU student Titus Mcglwan, said that he attended the event with the hopes that it would help spread awareness on the situation across campus.

“I’m hoping that people will hear this and will realize that what’s going on isn’t right or justified,” he said. “I’m hoping the message will be that mass genocide is not okay.” 

Another protestor and an SMU human rights major, Bailey Kamau, said she found out about the protest from her human rights professor.

“I had been learning about what’s happening in Palestine, and the word genocide can become something real to you,” Kamau said.

“As you get to hear stories and you hear the names, and you hear the atrocities being committed day to day, you could see, like, actual video footage of the gore and the slaughter happening,” she continued while referencing Al Jazeera and the BBC’s reports from Gaza. 

A pile of posters and protest equipment from the walkout. (Grace Bair)

The peaceful protesters kept to the lawn in front of the main fountain, but attracted attention from students and faculty who watched curiously from across campus sidewalks and benches. Police did occasionally ask counter-protestors to move to the designated counter-protest area to avoid any possible rise in tension. One such student, who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation, stood off to the side of the protest draped in the Israeli flag.

“I’m Israeli. I didn’t do anything, I just stood there,” he said. “I just have a flag on me because I’m Israeli.” 

Other students, who are a part of Mustangs for Israel, and who also wished to remain anonymous, were also asked to move to the counter-protest area.

“We’re not counter protesting, we’re just here watching and making sure that things are okay,” one student said. “We’re not here for any other reason other than to just stand there and observe, and just hear the other side of things.”

Chief Diversity Officer  Maria Dixon, Ph.D. watched the protest from outside Umphrey Lee. She said she was excited to see students engaging with the issue. 

“It just shows me the really strong character of the students we have, students are involved and they’re active, and they want to use their voices,” Dixon said. “For me, particularly as a communication professor, to see us utilizing free speech, both for and against, is what I would expect from SMU students – peaceful, intelligent and engaged.” 

One of the walkout leaders waves the Palestinian flag during a chant. (Katie Bergelin)

Dixon was also present at Black Lives Matter protests that took place across SMU’s campus in 2020. She compared the passion and engagement of the students protesting then to students’ support of PSC as of late. 

“You know this is a passionate issue, just like the BLM issue is, so I’m glad our students are taking an opportunity to show their tenacity and their engagement.”

Grace Bair and Katie Bergelin also contributed to this post. 

UPDATE: This story has been updated to remove a student’s last name due to safety concerns and to correct a previous statement.

 

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About the Contributor
Katie Fay, Arts & Life Editor
As the Arts and Life Editor, Katie keeps the campus up to date on current and cultural events on and off campus through her reporting and work with the podcast studio. She also occasionally works with the social media team to further engage audiences online.