Organizer outlines intent for protest

Rosalie Zuckermann / The Mossy Log

If you passed by Watzek Library on Friday, March 1, you probably noticed the large group of people congregating quietly outside the entrance of the library. Student protestors were holding paper signs demanding a “CEASEFIRE” and to “FREE PALESTINE.” The student who organized this silent protest, Maddie Selby ’25, has organized protests in the past and wanted to use their knowledge to create an accessible on-campus protest.

“I’ve had a lot of people question why I would do this on a campus where a lot of people agree with you. I think people don’t realize that our campus extends beyond the immediate community,” said Selby. “We have Palestinian students here, tours that go around and students on campus who want to get resources for future protests and learn how to contact their representatives for a ceasefire.”

Selby discussed their idea with friends before putting it into action by spreading a graphic around social media, in addition to printing physical flyers and placing them on campus cork boards.

“We were also standing in a centralized place on the academic campus, where people were passing often and had the opportunity to join us if they wanted to. I think a large number of the people who did join did so because they were passing by between classes,” Selby said.

There has been discourse on campus since the event about the sensitivity of the topic of the protest. Many students have differing opinions on the matter, and some have claimed that the demonstration may have been alienating to Jewish students. Selby kept this in mind when planning the protest.

“I’m in the process of converting to Judaism, and many of my Jewish friends wanted to create a space where they could protest,” Selby said. “We were very intentional in the language we used. I was looking at every sign to make sure nothing antisemitic occurred, and every time I have heard somebody state that (the demonstration) was antisemitic, I have heard no reason why. They have not provided evidence for that.”

Selby also kept careful track of the signs that were made, making sure that the message of their protest stayed true to their intentions.

“We included no language that was specifically anti-zionism because that means a lot of different things to different people; the word itself is nuanced,” Selby said.

Selby’s main goal was to create an ideal environment for meeting other students and community members who are interested in taking action.

“We now have an email list of over seventy people who are interested in action for a ceasefire,” Selby said. “(The protest) gets people talking and shows solidarity with Palestinian students on our campus. (The actions we intend to take include) continuing to hold spaces for Jewish people on campus who may not have identity in the state of Israel, and don’t want their identity to be fully associated with that. It will also be a continuation of spreading resources — people have been talking about holding weekly sit-ins to continue to show our support.”

Selby has suggestions for members of the wider community and for the general public to get involved in the cause.

“Contacting representatives is first and foremost. Local politics are incredibly important. When people have the finances, donating to reputable Palestinian aid is also helpful,” said Selby. “Showing solidarity with people is accessible and a great show of support.” 

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