After two protests mounted on College Walk, students at Teachers College gathered Thursday afternoon for a walkout of their own in solidarity with Palestine.
On Thursday at 4 pm, Teachers College (TC) students gathered outside of Zankel Hall on 120th St. “in solidarity with the Palestinian National Resistance.” The calls from protesters echoed the sentiments of the previous pro-Palestine protests on campus. The event was organized by students at Teachers College, though their affiliation with further student groups is unknown. Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) showed support for the event via Instagram, but were not directly affiliated with the organizing.
The walkout at Teachers College was the third demonstration of the day, after a 1 pm gathering on the Sundial in solidarity with the hostages in Gaza, and a 2 pm walkout in solidarity with Palestine, which gathered on Low Steps. The Teachers College walkout also comes after several weeks of organizing on Columbia’s campus related to pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian causes; however, it appears to be the first demonstration specifically organized by and for Teachers College students.
From chants of “Columbia Columbia open your eyes, you’re supporting genocide” to “Israel is a racist state,” demonstrators expressed their discontentment with Teachers College’s public response to the Israel-Gaza conflict. Participants held signs that read “Ceasefire Now! Free Palestine,” “Call it a Genocide,” “End the Occupation,” and “End Colonization in Palestine.”
The protesters began by claiming that those who “sit in safety” have an obligation to speak up. Their demands to the TC administration included a call for a ceasefire, a public statement denouncing the “unjust, brutal, and ongoing occupation of Gaza,” and the creation of a task force committed to ensuring the “safety and protection of Palestinian and Muslims students and faculty at Teachers College.”
One speaker referenced the mission of Teachers College. She stated that TC’s response to the conflict has been out of order with their slogan, “Where True Change Begins.” “True change starts with community,” she said, stating that student protests have exemplified this.
Another student expressed that student voices on the issue have been silenced in classrooms, saying they have been made to feel as though they must “avoid talking about Gaza.” A pamphlet circulating at the protest states that TC’s treatment of students in the wake of this conflict stands in opposition to the school’s mission statement and commitments to diversity.
The protesters acknowledged that as future educators and counselors, they have a unique obligation in pushing for change. Their lists of demands include calling for Robert Kraft, who they called “the biggest spender in supporting pro-Israeli candidates,” to step down from his role as a Trustee of the University.
The demonstrators’ list of demands also included demanding the University’s divestment from Israel, the cancellation of the Tel Aviv Global Center and Columbia’s dual degree program with Tel Aviv University, an investigation into the doxxing trucks, and academic leeway to students “grieving and protesting.” These largely mirror the demands of earlier protests, including the walkout on Low Steps earlier on Thursday and the National Walkout for Gaza demonstration on October 26.
Featured Image via Teachers College
Photos via Bwog Staff