Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass Dissenters and Students for Justice in Palestine hold their final protest of the semester

The protest honored the lives lost in Palestine and the three students shot in Vermont last week
Kalina Kornacki

Around 80 members of the UMass Dissenters and Students for Justice in Palestine occupied the Blue Wall floor on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 11:30 a.m. for their final protest of the semester. The protest was held to honor the lives lost in Palestine and the three students shot in Vermont last week.

“We want to show UMass that there will be no business as usual, so long as they do not comply to our demands being UMass [removing] ties to Raytheon which is directly funding this genocide,” Ruya Hazeyen, a senior political science and Middle Eastern studies major, said.

“UMass is unable to point any fingers at the responsible party, Israel, due to the school’s direct ties to war profiteers such as Raytheon,” Nate, a speaker at the protest, said. “In other words, UMass values a barbed line over the safety of its students.”

The protest began with three speeches from students. Then, the protestors moved through the Student Union into the Campus Center, where they laid on floors and tables from Greenfields to Tamales and began reading names of Palestinians who have been killed by war crimes.

“We’re talking about generations being wiped out, widespread,” one of the speakers said. “This is what apartheid looks like… this is what genocide looks like. You are witnessing a genocide in front of your eyes in 2023. Wake up.”

“I think our main goal was to make people uncomfortable and to disrupt business as usual. I feel like you can see almost no one eating in here right now, people do not want to be around us,” Hazeyen said.

Many students left Blue Wall after the beginning of the protest; while most of the seating was blocked, students still waited in lines for food and maneuvered around protesters on the ground.

Hazeyen directly addressed those ignoring the protest in Blue Wall.

Kalina Kornacki

“You guys are going about your lives and acting as if we are a minor convenience to you,” she said. “I just want to say, in 20 years, when this is condemned as one of the greatest genocides of our time, you are going to be ashamed of yourselves.”

Some students in Blue Wall were not pleased with the protest; many took videos and made jokes while waiting in line for food. With finals this upcoming week, some students appeared agitated at the protestors’ timing.

“Honestly, this is a pretty ideal time to get people informed because it’s a calm before the storm in my opinion,” Liam Rue, a junior political science major and protestor, said. “Classes are kind of winding down and people are preparing for finals. We still have all next week for finals. This is one of the last hoorahs to really get people informed on campus.”

This is not the first protest hosted by Dissenters and SJP on campus. On Oct. 25, over 500 people participated in a protest in which 57 students were arrested. After the arrests, Dissenters and SJP met with Chancellor Javier Reyes to discuss goals but explained that after the meeting, Reyes had not met their demands.

“The main thing that [Dissenters and SJP] are focused on right now is divesting from Raytheon, divesting from genocide and UMass has blood on its hands,” Hazeyen said.

As stated on a pamphlet handed out at the protest, Dissenters and SJP call for three demands from UMass: that UMass cut ties with weapons manufacturers, to replace those ties with jobs working towards a “demilitarized future” and for UMass to “call for an immediate end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and U.S. funding for Israel.”

“The administration knows our presence, they are aware of it, they are doing everything they can to ignore it but we will keep doing this until we are no longer able to be ignored,” Hazeyen said.

Malia Cole, a member of UMass Dissenters and a sophomore neuroscience major, was one of the 57 students arrested. They explained that “we as Dissenters and SJP won’t stop protesting until UMass divests.”

From the floor of Blue Wall, protestors shouted chants such as “free, free Palestine,” “from the river to the sea,” “long live the Intifada” and “how many kids did you kill today?”

“It is a f*****g genocide … If you still don’t care, if you still think this is complicated, then maybe you’re just racist, maybe you don’t care about brown bodies being murdered,” Hazeyen said.

The groups ended their protest by chanting, “Chancellor Reyes you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide” and “there is only one solution, Intifada revolution” as they marched back through the Campus Center into the Student Union and back to where they started.

‘You don’t have to be a bystander; you can find out what you can do and the least you can do is just hear about what people are saying at protests,” Rue said.

Alexandra Hill can be reached at [email protected]. Eve Neumann can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *