A second protest condemns the University’s silence
Last Thursday, A second student-led demonstration raising awareness for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took place at MacEwan University. The protest was called a “walkout” as students were encouraged to leave their classes and join in front of Robbins Health Learning Centre — the same location where October’s protest was held.
Numbers were greater than the previous month’s protest, and similar “walkouts” occurred synchronously at other educational institutions across the city.
Protesters formed in a circle as speakers took turns telling anecdotes of people affected by the conflict and personal stories of grief. Many wore black-and-white checkered keffiyeh while others carried Palestinian flags and picket signs. The crowd chanted messages calling for a ceasefire, a free Palestine, and for action from both the provincial and federal government.
At one point, organizers made comments directly addressed to MacEwan’s president Annette Trimbee and the institution itself. They demanded that the institution address the “ongoing genocide.”
In an email to faculty and staff, MacEwan’s provost and vice-president academic, Craig Monk, said that an increased security staff would monitor the protest. Monk stated that escorts were available for students. In the email, he encouraged faculty not to impede protestors “walking out” and to continue with classes and instruction.
“They may start chanting a message/messages as part of their departure, and again, please do not interfere with their actions,” Monk said in the email.
“While we support academic freedom and freedom of speech, we will not tolerate violence, threats, abuse, discrimination, targeting of specific groups or individuals, racism or harassment on our campus.”
Noor Khatib, who has been to protests for Egypt, Syria and Palestine in the past, says this was her first time at a MacEwan demonstration. While she didn’t have to skip class, she said that many of her classmates and friends were.
“It’s [the conflict] getting more and more known within social media. I think that’s been like a really huge thing that’s made MacEwan students stand up more for what’s been going on and like activism and letting people know what’s going on,” Khatib said. “I think it’s just like, if Palestine is not free, no one is free.”
Photography by Thai Sirikoone.