NMU students protest Gaza war

Above, the student encampment at NMU is viewed from another angle. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

MARQUETTE — Pro-Palestinian student protestors at Northern Michigan University have gathered on the lawn of the college’s academic mall with tents and signs, prepared to stay until Friday.

This encampment, along with many others on college campuses across the country, are a way for students to raise awareness of the plight of citizens of the Gaza Strip. Many, including these students, are protesting what they see as a genocide against Palestinians by Israeli forces.

Protestors continue to advocate for their demands of the school. They want a condolence email from administration acknowledging the impact the conflict has on mental health, a public statement condemning the genocide and a disclosure of all financial agreements with Israel’s Tel Aviv University.

A previous request, that the flag be lowered in honor of the deceased Palestinians, has been denied due to the many local, state and federal approvals that go into flag lowering.

“We’re very much inspired by Columbia (University) and the encampments that have been popping up at over 100 universities,” said History Department Teacher’s Aide Piper Kraft, explaining the importance of knowing where their money is going. “Divestment is extremely important and it’s our job to make that change because if no one’s going to do it, we might as well try.”

Northern Michigan University becomes one of the many colleges in the United States where students have set up an encampment in support of Palestinians facing violence in the Gaza Strip. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

Kraft also said a number of professors from the History Department have lent their support to the encampment including Nick Dupras and department head Alan Willis.

On Monday, Willis assisted Kraft and other students in creating a new organization — called Students for Peace and Equality — to help other student clubs in organizing peaceful protests.

“There’s just been a lot of police brutality against protestors and a lot of infringement on free speech … infringement on peaceful protesting,” Kraft said. “So we’ve been really mindful of that and how we can best stay safe ourselves while also keeping our protests going.”

While no official response from the university administration has been issued, the encampment has been inspected and approved by the director of Student Conduct, Mark Dellangelo.

As of Tuesday, the protestors have spent one night in their tents on campus with a camping permit and approval from NMU Chief of Police Mike Bath to stay through Friday, May 3 with some stipulations: no use of amplification devices, protesting activities must not disrupt classes or studying, the encampment must not inhibit pedestrian traffic and all protestors must clean up everything once the protest is over.

Protestors haven’t received a great deal of negative feedback from local police or fellow students. Many students and faculty have been donating food, towels, blankets and other necessities to those at the encampment.

“Our biggest ask right now is just bodies on the ground,” Kraft said. “We’re very light physically but we’ve been getting a ton of support … which is appreciated. We understand that not everyone can donate their time.”

One student named Ryan said he’s “never really been part of an organization” before but is glad to be protesting with fellow students.

“They’re very welcoming,” he said. “The movement is really good to see overall. It’s just good to make (people aware) up here. It’s the U.P. so it’s not like we’re gonna be in the thick of things but … it feels good to just keep moving forward.”

Additionally, Kraft said those who are interested are free to come by and inquire about their cause, sit with them, donate and participate.

Alexandria Bournonville can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 506. Her email address is abournonville@miningjournal.net.


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