The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Op-ed: Student activism in uncertain times

Photo by Hana Isihara for The Lafayette
Students sat for the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality.

Lafayette has a history of student activism. In the 1970s, students protested the Vietnam War. In 2016, students sat-in at Fisher field during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. In the wake of Parkland, students walked out of class. 

What all this student activism has in common is the commitment of small groups of students to use their voices to speak out against injustice, no matter the distance. Resistance against colonial oppression is what our nation was built on, and resistance to injustice is what has shaped it. 

Policing and slander accompanied these protests. You can dissent, but “not like that.” 

While Lafayette might feel like it is a million miles away from cities where power is wielded, even small student protests are important. 

Recent online and in-person comments regarding Pards4Palestine’s efforts demonstrate a key misunderstanding about the purpose of student activism.

President Hurd and the Lafayette administration will not pass a ceasefire amidst the ongoing genocide and famine plaguing Palestinians. Nor, perhaps, will news of a few dozen students disrupting (minimally, might I add) campus activities make it up the chain to the White House. 

So what is the point? 

Firstly, we call upon Lafayette to disclose funding amounts, investments and divest from mutual funds that may be invested in Palestinian genocide. 

Further, we hope that after college, you will move and bring what you have learned at Lafayette with you. We hope you have learned to question how things operate and imagine a better world. We show our community members whose loved ones are impacted by Israel’s war on Palestine that they are not alone. We demonstrate our righteous responsibility to question our government’s funding of human suffering. We spend weeks in city council, write letters to our representatives, organize educational events, and organize the uncommitted vote. 

While I wish I could go to D.C. and New York every week to protest, I have papers to write. So we make do here. 

Vietnam antiwar and South African Apartheid Protests were centered on college campuses, where young people refused to be silent amidst the complicity of their administrations and government. The phrase “climate justice” gained popularity through student strikes that were started by one person and were instrumental in passing today’s climate legislation. 

These movements were not celebrated while they took place. That is the nature of change. 

I encourage folks to look at college campuses around the world where students at institutions of every size are standing in solidarity with Gaza. If the student organizers at each small institution like ours bended to the policing of imperfect student activism and sacrificed the tremendous impact small voices in unison have had on the history of struggles for justice, we would all be far worse off. 

This school lists as its corporate donors, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, manufacturers that have supplied the weapons to murder 34,000+ Palestinians. Lafayette in its endowment likely also invests directly in Israeli bonds; without disclosure, we can’t be sure. (For the climate justice folks, Chevron and ExxonMobil are also corporate donors.) 

So, Lafayette: Disclose where our money goes, and divest from any mutual funds and bonds that fund Israel’s genocidal campaign in Palestine.

Note: If you have any criticism, please feel free to email me directly.

Azalea Danes ’24 is an organizer and a member of the Pards 4 Palestine coalition.

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Comments (9)

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  • 2

    2018 AlumnaApr 29, 2024 at 5:19 pm

    I just want to say – as someone who spent their 4 years at Lafayette engaging in protests, I am so proud of you and everyone else involved in Pard4Palestine. There are so many of us from previous generations who have our full weight behind you and are doing what we can to help. Keep it up!!

  • D

    Drew SwedbergApr 26, 2024 at 1:31 pm

    Thank you for your words, your clarity, and your commitment, Azalea

  • Z

    Zionist PardApr 26, 2024 at 11:02 am

    Why should you or your antisemitic comrades have any say over where the money is spent? First, each of you should disclose how much you actually pay to attend Lafayette before you get to determine what the school does. It almost certainly starts with a $0. If you hate the school & this country so much, please leave. You’d really be doing everyone a big favor.

    • A

      Anti-Zionist AlumApr 26, 2024 at 12:06 pm

      Snobbery doesn’t suit someone who is the supporter of a state that is the biggest welfare recipient in the world (to the tune of $4B a year). And thanks for using White Supremacist talking points like “if you don’t like the country, leave it” to confirm what so many know to be the truth, that Zionism = racist supremacist ideology.

      • Z

        Zionist PardApr 26, 2024 at 5:44 pm

        Hi Pro-Hamas Alum, you got me with the “White supremacist talking points” line. Yup ✊✊✊. It’s really just a pro-Jewish/pro-America/pro-Lafayette sentiment in not wanting people around who want to destroy things because they hate them. You could’ve just said “I hate Jews & America, but love Hamas! Death to America!” and saved some time. Who are the “so many” that share your antisemitic thoughts about the rights of Jews to exist. Hitler? Hamas? Who else am I missing?

    • P

      Pepper Prize FinalistApr 26, 2024 at 1:37 pm

      Under that logic, we should restrict Pepper Prize finalists to full-pay students only.

      The people you think hate the school are the ones who best embody Lafayette’s ideal. Maybe you’d be doing everyone a big favor by educating yourself.

    • A

      Anti-Zionist PardApr 27, 2024 at 1:01 pm

      “Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.” -courtesy of the US Department of State.
      I encourage you to take more GM courses as you are profoundly misinformed and ignorant. Please be wiser with your choice of words moving forward now that you are aware that calling their comments “antisemitism” is politically incorrect.

  • M

    Monica SalasApr 26, 2024 at 10:44 am

    Thank you for this, Azalea. Reading the college newspaper recently has been quite depressing, but reading op-eds like yours also gives us hope.

  • A

    Alum '18Apr 26, 2024 at 10:01 am

    Thank you for sharing this, Azalea. It brings me a great deal of relief to know students with a conscience and a voice exist on Lafayette’s campus while the Newspaper performs for the Administration the job Fox News did for the Trump admin, and many students simply sit on the sideline. Unfortunately, Lafayette has always attracted the most apolitical, upper middle class type student, and it appears that hasn’t changed while we see mass protests sweep college campuses across the country but relatively little action at Lafayette.

    While P4P continues its necessary work, know you have the support of countless alums, and students and activists from schools across the country, and of course, hundreds of millions of people around the world who are joining the growing movement for Palestinian liberation. When that movement bears fruit, which it inevitably will, the role of the Lafayette Newspaper and the current administration will be remembered with the shame it deserves.