On Jan. 19th, a pro-Palestine protest organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at ASU marched to the Fulton Center with a list of Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) demands, where a senior vice president for Educational Outreach and Student Services James Rund collected their petition.
The march was announced on the SJP at ASU Instagram on Jan. 16th. It began on the Barrett Lawn before traveling to Memorial Union. There, protestors chanted, gave speeches and passed around the petition. At the peak of the crowd, close to 80 people were marching.
The petition calls on ASU to boycott and divest from Israeli-owned businesses, including products in campus stores and company investments through the ASU Foundation. An online version of the petition has been available through the SJP Instagram, where it has collected over 500 signatures, according to Sujey Vega, associate professor at the School of Social Transformation and faculty advisor for SJP at ASU.
One of the demands in the petition was a call to end study abroad programs in Israel. The SCETL Leadership and Service program in Israel and the West Bank does exist, but it was suspended for 2024.
The protest then marched to the entrance of the Fulton Center, where they were met with locked doors. After chanting and presenting the petition, Rund came from a different entrance and collected it from Finn Howe, the president of SJP at ASU.
Vega said this is the first time in her four years as the advisor that an administration member has heard their demands.
“They weren't allowed in the space, which I understand,” Vega said. “It’s a place of work, and they don’t want the noise, but they had never sent anybody to talk to the students yet, so I appreciate that.”
In 2021, assistant to the executive vice president and provost Becky Eisenberg took a letter from members of Students for Justice in Palestine in front of the entrance to the Fulton Center in a similar fashion.
A university spokesperson later said, “The University neither endorses nor restricts opinions voiced at campus demonstrations as a matter of free speech. People on our campuses have the right to peacefully express their opinions as long as they follow the student Code of Conduct.”
During the protest, speeches were given by representatives from organizations, including the Communist Party USA and the Party for Socialism & Liberation.
A Palestinian-American student gave a personal speech expressing sadness and anger for the people in Gaza.
“As a Palestinian-American woman named Peace, I find myself carrying a name that resonates with the desperate longing for peace in my homeland, a sentiment that is denied to the people of Palestine,” said Salam, an ASU junior studying criminology and criminal justice, in a speech at the Memorial Union.
Salam translates to “peace” in Arabic, according to ancestry.com.
Later, Salam said she had done volunteer work in the region. While there, she said she had been spit at by the Israeli Defense Forces and that her family had been harmed during her time in the region.
"I’m here right now to show ASU even though I go to school here and I’m paying tuition; I do not agree with my tuition money going to kill my cousins because I have family there,” said Salam.
The protest dispersed from the lawn in front of Tooker House around noon.
Edited by Shane Brennan, Walker Smith and Angelina Steel.