Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Students walk out of class in solidarity with Palestine, in protest of University response, weapons investment

11.9.23 Palestine Solidarity Walkout

Students walked out of class at noon on Thursday in solidarity with Palestine, gathering at Gregory Gym Plaza and calling for an acknowledgment of Palestinian, Muslim and Arab students and for UT to divest from weapon manufacturers.

Prior to the walkout, the Palestine Solidarity Committee released a student statement of solidarity signed by over 30 student organizations. The statement called on the University to publicly acknowledge the Oct. 12 disturbance of a Palestine Solidarity Committee event, issue a statement condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and protect pro-Palestinian voices on campus.

The roughly 200 protesters flooded the plaza where committee members spoke and led chants including, “Gaza Gaza, don’t you cry. We will never let you die.” Students waved flags as they led protestors toward the Tower to deliver copies of the statement to University President Jay Hartzell.  

A Palestine Solidarity Committee member leads the crowd down Speedway to the Tower on Thursday’s walkout. (Manoo Sirivelu)

“The letters will show the President that we’re thinking about the Palestinian people who are suffering right now,” psychology sophomore Joan Gutierrez said after delivering his letter. “We’ve got to show our support and show them that we don’t support the funding of genocide.”

History junior Dena said she walked out of her lecture with roughly 30 students to show University leadership how many students care about Palestine.

“It’s so easy to feel helpless, especially in a place of privilege, just being in a country that you’re relatively safe in,” Dena said. “Having the ability to do the simplest act of walking out of class 15 minutes early and trying to bring a message across to your leadership that this is not what the people they’re leading want, I think that’s incredibly important.”

Anthropology freshman Cooper said he showed up out of solidarity for Palestinian students.

“By coming out and saying, ‘I see what’s happening, I see what is happening to you, your families, your people,’ it’s showing that we won’t be silent for it,” Cooper said. “I am a Jewish person, both ethnically and culturally, and I am out here in support. This is not about religion.”

Throughout the protest, around 20 students waved Israeli flags and handed out flyers of kidnapped Israeli citizens from the steps across the plaza. A Chinese language and culture sophomore passing out small Israeli flags to students on Speedway said he did not view it as a counter-protest, but just people with strong beliefs wanting to come together. 

Mohammed Zakzok, a Palestine Solidarity Committee member, said Palestinian advocacy shouldn’t be equated with antisemitism.

“Palestinian students and Muslim students and other Arab students, we all agree that we stand against antisemitism the same way that Jewish students also stand against Islamophobia,” said Zakzok, a physical culture and sports senior.

The Austin chapter of Students for a Democratic Society hung a banner from the bridge connecting the University Teaching Center and the McCombs School of Business at 4 p.m., reading “Free Palestine, end the siege on Gaza.” Students walking by joined the chant. 

“It’s important to recognize genocide. It’s important to recognize inequality no matter where it lies in the world, even though this conflict isn’t happening within my borders,” government freshman Joseph Haynes-Stewart said. “No matter rain, sun or regardless of the weather, I know that oppression is happening somewhere and for me to sit idly, it’s not something that I can personally do.”

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About the Contributor
Leila Saidane, Photo Editor
Leila Saidane is a junior from Dallas, Texas, studying Radio-TV-Film and Journalism. Her words and photos have been published in The Texas Tribune, The Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News.