Approximately 100 USF students and community members marched around campus on Oct. 25 in a protest against the “oppression of Palestinians,” according to the protest’s flier. At 3 p.m. that day, students walked out of their classes and gathered outside USF’s Law Building before marching up to Lone Mountain.
The demonstration was one of more than 100 in the United States on Oct. 25 organized by activist organizations National Students for Justice in Palestine and Dissenters. In the Bay Area on the same day, students walked out at both the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University.
Community members protested for three demands: “that USF divest from weapons manufacturers which arm Israel’s genocide in Gaza,” “an immediate end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and U.S. funding from Israel,” and that an email be sent to the entire USF comunity that “publicly denounce[s] Israel’s genocide of Palestenian people,” according to the protest’s flier.
While the protest was collectively organized by national organizations, a group of students at USF organized the Oct. 25 protest on the Hilltop. The Foghorn interviewed one of these organizers and has granted them anonymity, per our guidelines, due to recent instances of retaliation against pro-Palestine supporters and protest organizers on college campuses across the nation. On Oct. 11 at Harvard University, various student representatives withdrew their signatures from a statement blaming the nation of Israel for the conflict in the region, after facing threats and doxxing attacks, the Harvard Crimson reported. On Oct. 25, CNN reported that Columbia University students were doxxed on a mobile billboard on campus due to their support of Palestinian groups. The Foghorn has granted the organizer anonymity for their safety.
In response to the demand that USF divest from weapons manufacturers supplying the Israeli military, the organizer, who is a USF graduate student, said that the claim is part of a “transnational callout” that other student organizers at public universities have made toward their respective schools investing in weapons manufacturers.
“We are currently trying to find out [if] USF also has a similar connection to this, but obviously USF is a private university so it’s a bit difficult to get those records and transparency with the funding,” they said.
Charles Cross, Vice President of Business and Finance at USF stated, “We don’t own any such investments.”
According to USF’s investment policy statement, the University’s Investment Committee evaluates investment opportunities with several “socially responsible considerations.” Found in Appendix C of the policy, considerations include mentions of investments related to the “sacredness of life” and “weapons of mass destruction,” which state that USF’s investment principles are to “value the sacredness of life by not investing in corporations whose primary business practices or products contribute directly to the destruction or degradation of human life…. by not investing in corporations whose primary business involves research, production, deployment and servicing of weapons of mass destruction,” among others.
The organizer said, “We [are] simply echoing the national demands of students all over the U.S. who have proof of their establishments investing in these companies.”
Senior French studies major Price Little attended the protest. “I think it’s really important to support the movement because so many people here pretend they don’t see the genocide happening,” he said. “Students don’t think they have a voice that can impact the decisions of the University, but if there’s enough people, there can be.”
The group entered various buildings on campus like the University Center, Kalmanovitz Hall, and Lone Mountain. While standing outside the Lone Mountain East Residence Hall, they chanted “End the occupation now” and “Viva viva Palestina.”
Another protestor was Mikayla Brown, a senior communications student. When asked why they joined the protest, Brown said, “I decided to come because I care, and I have friends that are Palestinian and from the Middle East. I see what’s going on and it’s abhorrent.”
Since the Foghorn’s last reporting on Oct. 26, the United Nations’ General Assembly passed a resolution with 120 votes in favor of calling for an “immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas,” and demanded aid for the protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip on Oct. 27, according to Reuters. Israel and the United States were among the 14 countries that voted in opposition to the resolution.
As of Oct. 31, at least 8,306 Palestinians have been killed and another 21,408 have been injured in Gaza; 1,405 Israelis have been killed and 5,431 have been injured, according to Al Jazeera’s live tracker of the war.
The organizer said that their protests will continue until a time when “the University adequately responds to our needs and demands.” At the time of publication, those protests have not been announced.
The Foghorn will continue to report on breaking developments in campus response to the Israel-Hamas War.