SJP hosts Sadler walkout with various student groups


Editor’s Note: The Flat Hat has decided to honor the requests of several sources and keep their identities anonymous out of protection for their safety and wellbeing.  

Thursday, Feb. 8, the College’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine organized a “Walkout for Palestine at W&M” with various student groups, including the Black Student Organization, Jewish Voices for Peace and the Asian American Student Initiative at the Sadler Terrace. The event was aimed at voicing student support for Palestine, following the ongoing violence in the region. 

Dozens of students, including recognized student organization and Student Assembly members and leaders, gathered to participate in the event. 

One student speaker in AASI expressed support for Palestine and cited the United States’ support for Israel being a result of its neoliberal ideology, urging students to uproot colonial violence.

Students also marched across the College, going through the Sadler Center, walking past the Sir Christopher Wren Building, the Sunken Gardens and the Crim Dell Bridge, carrying signs and the Palestinian flag.

Another student speaker referenced the atrocities in Palestine having effects on generations of Palestinians, and that Israel’s “enforcement of ethnic cleansing” has murdered nearly 28,000 people. Data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states that since Oct. 7, 2023, more than 27,947 Palestinians and over 1,200 Israelis have been killed in the conflict.

“But we are hopeful,” the student speaker said. “Free Palestine, Palestine will be free. Palestine will be free. It is also Black History Month, a month where we honor Black achievement praise for the strides Black people have made as they fought for liberation. But this liberation exists in a vacuum. There are so many forms of parallels between the Palestinian and Black struggle if we think about the legal segregation, Jim Crow laws in America and the apartheid that has been in Palestine, the dehumanization, the displacement, the prison industrial complex.”

One SJP student member reacted to the event.

“It was nice to see the people come and show support,” the student SJP speaker said. “You know, we know that a large part of the community supports us, but ideally, we would want more of the community to be here. You know, it’s very important work that we do and fight for liberation and for obviously, first and foremost, a ceasefire, the genocide and ethnic cleansing is horrifying. And we need to do everything in our power to change the course of history and make a difference in this cause.”

The student speaker also reflected on the College administration.

“The college so far has been pretty — you know, they cracked down on us last semester with the probation, and I personally feel like that was unjust. But we’re working with the administration this semester, hopefully to not run into those problems again. And we’ve been keeping an open communication with them, so no worries there,” the student speaker said.

According to the Community Values and Restorative Practice office, SJP was placed on probation on Dec. 11, 2023, for infringing on the rights of others, and failure to comply with instructions and endangerment of health and safety.

Another student attendee also gave their thoughts on why they came out to support the event.

“I support Palestine,” the student said. “I mean, it’s as simple as that, right? Not only do I support Palestine specifically, I think me and a lot of other people here, I mean, you can see it’s like a very complicated coalition. We as a group, we just see objective wrong in the world, and, you know, we want to stand up against it.” 

The student referenced a big part of their strategy has not been trying to convince people but to increase awareness of the issue.

“Some people have a certain way of viewing things, there’s really no way to really convince them,” the student said. “A lot of it is like circular conversation, right? They’ll say, ‘Well, what about what happened this time?’ And then you say, ‘What happened at that time,’ right? And you’ll just keep going back and forth. But, I think if people were willing to understand the fundamental reasons, you know, we don’t support apartheid states. I mean, you can even ask the JVP a lot of, Jewish students don’t support Zionism and the framing of Zionism as Judaism.”

The student also provided their reaction to College President Katherine Rowe’s statement on the conflict last year.

“I think the president made it pretty clear sometime last semester. I think it was before the winter break. She wrote a letter and, well, basically, she tried to be very neutral in her language and condemn both sides. But what it really was, was a subtle way of, like, implying support for Israel. And, I mean, if you even go through the letter of the word ‘Palestine’ or ‘genocide’ or anything like that, we used to describe, the situation is not used once. So, I mean, while the school may not outwardly support, you know, one side, they’re doing everything under the rug they can,” the student said.

The other student speaker said more students should bring their friends.

“Bring more people as it is. Tell your friends, you know, if you’re uncomfortable talking about this stuff in front of your friends, are they really your friends? We have to challenge these things. You have to have difficult conversations. We’re trying to make a place to have safe political discourse,” the student speaker said.


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