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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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The People’s University: they will not stop, they will not rest

Moises Lopez
Free speech cartoon made by Moses Lopez

Tensions continue to rise across the United States as university students set up Gaza solidarity encampments and call for the schools to “divest all economic and academic stakes in Israel.

There would be no universities without the students who attend them and it is shameful that these institutions continue to side against them. This decision will no doubt haunt them and affect not only their reputation, but will play a major factor when incoming students make their final acceptance decisions.

On April 17, Columbia University students began their Gaza solidarity encampment in which they occupied the campus’ South Lawn.

The following day, USC announced the cancellation of its valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s commencement speech for “safety concerns.”

This came after a complaint was filed against Asna for her Instagram posts that were in support of Palestine, despite Asna having not even written her speech yet.

This quickly escalated USC students towards beginning their own Gaza solidarity encampment.

Numerous universities across the U.S. and the world are now joining the movement and beginning their own encampments, many giving themselves the title of “The People’s University.”

Students have highlighted the fact that there are no remaining universities in Gaza, which has made them face the reality that having an access to education is a privilege.

While students protest for their schools to divest from supporting a genocide, they are forced to fight suppression from their own universities.

Few schools have chosen to listen to their students, quickly resulting in an end to the encampments and protests.

However, most schools have chosen to ignore their students’ demands and paint them as violent and disruptive.

The reality is quite the opposite.

Instead of applauding their students for standing up for what they believe in, encouraging them to use their First Amendment rights and protecting them from physical harm, these universities have turned their backs on them, condemned them and called the local police departments – who historically incite violence at peaceful protests – to remove them from the campus.

This resulted in violence against students and faculty and numerous injuries from being thrown down the stairs to broken ribs from being tackled to the ground.

On April 30, UCLA was faced with dangerous attacks from counter protestors who shot fireworks into the student encampment, sprayed students with bear mace, threw heavy objects such as an electric scooter at the students and attempted to tear down the barricades surrounding the encampments.

Meanwhile, the police were suddenly nowhere to be found until the following day, despite the chief of police at UCLA being told to “spare no expense” with a safety plan prior to the attack.

They then initiated their own violent attempt to tear down the encampment, using rubber bullets and extreme aggression, resulting in a student suffering an injury from a rubber bullet to the face.

Both USC and Columbia, have announced the cancellation of their main commencement ceremonies.

Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, released a statement explicitly saying that the university will not divest from Israel.

Shafik and many other university leaders continue to hide behind and weaponize the imaginary threat of antisemitism, defined as prejudice against the Jewish people, while taking action that directly harms the Jewish students participating in the solidarity encampments, and ignores the movements alliance with the activist group, Jewish Voice for Peace.

What does it say about these universities whose purpose is supposed to be environments for higher learning and open and diverse conversations?

If only the best students are admitted to these universities surely their opinions come from an educated and well thought-out place.

Why are these universities opposed to their students standing up for what’s right? Is the university’s financial interests what is most important or the students who attend them?

These universities will be remembered as being on the wrong side of history. By refusing to divest, they have blood on their hands.

Our universities and schools are supposed to be settings for open conversations and diverse values. Do not let university administrators silence you. These protests have been seen around the world and have inspired many to start their own. Palestinians have said the protests are giving them hope. Continue to fight, continue to protest, your voice makes a difference

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About the Contributors
Laura Bernal
Laura Bernal, Staff Writer
Laura Bernal is a staff writer for Talon Marks covering arts & entertainment and news. In her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to music and attending concerts. She plans to transfer to Cal State Fullerton and work at an independent magazine.
Adrienne Fajardo
Adrienne Fajardo, Staff Writer
Adrienne Fajardo is a staff writer for Talon Marks. Outside of reporting she enjoys going on hikes, listening to  music and painting. She plans to transfer to Cal State Fullerton to further her education in Journalism.
Moises Lopez
Moises Lopez, Editorial Cartoonist
Moises Lopez is the staff Editorial Cartoonist and has enjoyed winning a JACC award for Talon Marks in a previous semester. He also plans on transferring with a Major in Political Science and Minor in Journalism.
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The People’s University: they will not stop, they will not rest