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Protest over deaths in Gaza held outside Arts and Letters building

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 (Amanda Crane/The DePaulia)

DePaul students during protest outside of Arts & Letters Hall Tuesday, Sept. 30.

DePaul students during protest outside of Arts & Letters Hall Tuesday, Sept. 30. (Matthew Paras/The DePaulia)

 

A 10-minute protest was held outside the Arts and Letters building Tuesday from multiple student groups, calling for DePaul to divest in multinational corporations and for the violence to stop in Gaza against Palestinians.

Around 20 students, made up of members from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), DePaul’s Feminist Front and other student groups that are part of DePaul Divest, protested after classes got out at 12:50 p.m.

Many members of the protest laid on the ground with a piece of paper with the name of a deceased Palestinian on top of them. As they laid there, a protester read the names of Palestinian civilians who died from the violence while another protester was hitting a gong for every name.

Two protesters also held a banner that read “Gaza’s blood is on our hands” while other protesters handed out a flyer that called for student action.

“This was a public action to raise awareness about the massacre of Palestinian civilians over the summer in Gaza,” Hanna Alshaikh, a member of SJP, said. “More importantly, (DePaul) is currently invested in 12 corporations that profit off the Israeli human rights abuse of Palestinians.

“This action was first a means of raising awareness and then urging the administration to take action of the needs and demands of the students,” she said.

The issue of whether DePaul should divest was a large debate among students in the spring of 2013. Students voted in a referendum through the Student Government Association (SGA) that called for DePaul to divest, passing 54-46 percent (1,575 “yes“ to 1,333 “no”) in favor.

Protest poster.

Protest poster.

Even with the referendum passing, the administration has yet to say whether DePaul will end up divesting from the corporations that include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing among others.

In May, DePaul President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., who is on sabbatical at Harvard, released a statement to students through email that made it ambiguous whether DePaul would take action.

“The divestment request is problematic in a number of ways,” Holtschneider said. “First, of course, is because the political standoff at the root of this matter is deeply complicated … What is social responsible to one organization or set of interests may be objectionable to another.”

Holtschneider also suggested that DePaul Divest and the several Jewish groups against the vote were to take their case to the Fair Business Practices Committee on campus.

Alshaikh said that she thinks the protests being held on campus will help send a message to the administration to take action.

“We’re optimistic with enough public action and student pressure that it’s something that will happen,” Alshaikh said. “The DePaul administration has a history of addressing student concerns and we will think it will happen eventually.”

A second protest was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today.

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Protest over deaths in Gaza held outside Arts and Letters building