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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Community gathers for pro-Palestine sit in

Allison Drinnon
Supporters of the sit-in for Palestine hold up signs and march through The Quad Monday, April 29, 2024, to call for the removal of the Israeli flag from the Multicultural Lounge in Lampasas Hall.

San Marcos community members gathered Monday at the Stallions statue and shared laughter, tears and chants for a free Palestine, joining other college demonstrations across the U.S.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) at Texas State organized the seven-hour sit-in, which ended with a march to Lampasas Hall after an uproar overtook the University of Texas at Austin campus 30 miles away.

President of PSC at Texas State Joseph Ely said the goal of the sit-in was to have a peaceful, educational demonstration, allowing the space for attendees to learn about the ongoing war in Gaza.

“What will be most effective [on-campus] is pushing the needle toward people seeing Palestinians as human beings that are entitled to dignity and human rights just like everybody else,” Ely said. “The most effective means is education. We’ve already lost in a sense. Both political parties are very dedicated to genocide. But what I think will help is if in the long term, we can help people care.”

The sit-in started at noon with official remarks from PSC Texas State members. According to organizers, the Texas State University Police Department (UPD) set up barricades placed to keep main walkways open. Zachariah Al-Natoor, an urban planning junior, shared his personal story as a Palestinian-American.

“My grandparents walked out of Palestine in 1948 after the Nakba, and my father had to leave Kuwait after [the Gulf War]. Western occupation has been involved in my life since the very beginning, and it’s engraved in my lineage,” Al-Natoor said. “Israel and what it’s doing to Palestine is disgusting. It’s a disgrace to Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews and humans. Using Jewish justification, as justification for Israel to exist is a disgrace to the Jewish faith and the Jewish community, and it’s disgusting to see a disgrace over and over again.”

As chants continued to fill the air in between speeches, UPD officers sporadically roamed around participants in groups of three, unlike the protests seen at University of Texas at Austin that resulted in arrests. Other university officials were in attendance watching the event unfold.

Pete Stevenson from Exeter, England, came to support the cause at Texas State. Stevenson is a member of the Exeter Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and the Exeter Stop the War Group.

“I’m moved. I’m genuinely moved,” Stevenson said. “The speeches are the same. I mean, it’s one speech basically, it’s one message and I’m really impressed with the articulate and knowledgeable way in which those speeches were delivered and every conversation I’ve had, has been with, with very knowledgeable students.”

A group of roughly 10 pro-Israeli protesters held the Israeli flag from across The Quad. Only one Jewish community member willingly spoke with The University Star, then later asked to remain anonymous. The Star did not grant them anonymity and their quotes have been omitted from the article.

Graduate student Luiz Osorio said seeing participants mobilize is a great first step to spreading awareness, though to Osorio, there is more work and education to be done.

“It spreads awareness of not only what is happening but also the movement itself… We need to show solidarity with the other campuses around the country,” Osorio said. “We can never claim to be speaking only for them [Palestinians]. That’s not what we should be doing. We’re speaking with them and amplifying their voices.”

A sea of banners and signs with phrases like “Bobcats against genocide” covered the Stallions as more attendees showed their solidarity.

Saeed Moshfeghyeganeh, Texas State physics lecturer, led an Asr prayer before the march to Lampasas Hall.

According to PSC, the march to Lampasas Hall was rooted in the demand to remove the Israeli flag in the multicultural lounge. The organization said on Oct. 7 Texas State removed the Palestinian flag from the room and allowed the Israeli flag to go up.

PSC at Texas State demands the Israeli flag be removed and currently has a petition with over 300 signatures in hopes its wish gets granted.

Community member Amanda Rodriguez and student Zayna Abdel-Rahim led the march from the Stallions to Lampasas.

“For a long time I wanted to yell out into the void and being able to come out here, yell to the top of my lungs and see people who have come up to me and say, ‘Oh, this is the first time they’ve ever done this.’ It gives me a lot of hope,” Rodriguez said. “Despite [everything] we see on a day-to-day basis, this is what it’s about. This is a new generation that’s going to come and I can tell you I’m so sure that this world would be a better place because of it.”

The sit-in concluded with no arrests.

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