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Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Hundreds protest war in Gaza on MU campus

Bailey Blackburn

On Mon. April 29, around 300 peaceful protestors marched across the University of Missouri — Columbia (MU) campus to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and demonstrate against the United States’ relations with Israel.

Protestors began at Lowry Mall, passed by Memorial Union and turned left on University Avenue before moving to the Francis Quadrangle. Along the way, students held handmade signs and recited chants like, “no more fighting or Israel’s crimes,” and “Biden, Biden, pick a side. Ceasefire, not genocide.”

Those participating in the walkout were not subject to arrests or other incidents, contrary to a rising number of protests occurring in universities nationwide. According to AP News, over 1,000 student protesters have been arrested thus far, including those at institutions like Columbia University, Arizona State University and the University of Texas. Around 100 people were arrested at Washington University in  St. Louis on Sat. April 27, including 23 students, at least four faculty members and Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein.

MU junior Lima Sherzad, president of the Mizzou Muslim Students Organization, was one of three speakers at the rally. She emphasized the importance of collective action in drawing momentum and energy in the pro-Palestine movement.

“As students, we learn about history and the hopes that we can make sure it doesn’t repeat itself, but we also need to acknowledge that student activism is an integral part of American history,” Sherzad said. “Each of us have a responsibility towards the people of Gaza and Palestine to raise our voices and protest this brutal onslaught, and to hold our own government institutions responsible for the financial assistance they provide to advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza.”

Since Oct. 7, 2023, at least 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 have been injured, according to Al Jazeera. The death toll includes over 14,500 children and 8,400 women. Additionally, more than 8,000 Palestinians have been reported missing.

Due to many universities’ investments in companies with Israeli ties, protestors called for MU to disclose their endowments and permanently divest from Israel. Speakers demanded financial transparency from the university and urged it to cut off any interests linked with the foreign country. MU senior Ian De Smet, co-chair of Mizzou Young Democratic Socialists of America, said he seeks to bring to attention the war crimes happening in Palestine and the work of the student organizations currently helping mobilize the local government.

There is power against this. There is power in [the] community. There is power in us working together. And we as citizens have the responsibility and the power to stand up.”

— Ian De Smet, co-chair of Mizzou Young Democratic Socialists of America

“Earlier in the year, we were able to pass a city-wide proclamation for a ceasefire and release of the hostages, which took a lot of work and a lot of pressure from weekly protests,” De Smet said. “There is power against this. There is power in [the] community. There is power in us working together. And we as citizens have the responsibility and the power to stand up.”

Every Saturday since Oct. 7, pro-Palestine rallies have been held on the MU campus, which are open to the public. Humanitarian aid worker and MU adjunct professor Rasha Abousalem said she attends these rallies because she believes in the basic human rights of Palestinians.

“The demands of everyone are to stop using American taxpayer money to fund a genocide, to fund apartheid [and] to fund the oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people,” Abousalem said. “We’re all here together to call for the end of injustice. [Educate] yourself and make sure that you speak to people who are directly involved in these situations to get better insight. The power is in your voice, and the power is in your support for human rights.”

MU junior Tiana Cobb said she has recently started coming to protests and social justice initiatives, which she participates in despite not being involved in any campus organizations.

“I’m here today to use my voice, speak up for Palestine [and] call for a ceasefire,” Cobb said. “Free Palestine. Keep fighting. And keep showing up [and] using your voice.”

De Smet said he encourages those who want to get involved to join the public rallies or reach out to the Mizzou Young Democratic Socialists of America, whether they are an MU student or not.

“I know our campus [might be] far away and I know summer is right around the corner,” De Smet said. “While I can’t speak for the other organizations in the coalition, our rallies are every Saturday at 2 p.m. [and] our meetings here on campus [are] open to the public.”

Abousalem shared the sentiment of getting involved, saying that regardless of how small, every voice is important and carries weight. 

“Don’t ever feel like it’s not going to make a difference, that it doesn’t matter,” Abousalem said. “First and foremost, it should matter. To you personally as an individual, to your consciousness. One day, you’re [going to] look back and say, I did not stay silent. I did try to support [the cause], even in the smallest of ways, or what I felt was the smallest of ways, but I at least did something. Find the ways [that] are there, and you could be part of the call for justice.”

What do you think of the recent university protests in America? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Contributors
Jenna Lin
Jenna Lin, Staff Writer, Photographer
Sophomore Jenna Lin is a staff writer and photographer for Southpaw and Bearing News. She is a member of the girls' tennis team, co-captain of Scholar Bowl and Science Bowl and an officer for FBLA and Mu Alpha Theta. In her free time, she enjoys reading, funny tweets and quiet cinema.
Bailey Blackburn
Bailey Blackburn, Photo Editor
Senior Bailey Blackburn is the photo editor for Southpaw and Bearing News. She is also the president of Film Club and is on the RBHS Cross Country and Track and Field team. In her free time she enjoys reading, listening to music, and painting.

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