Appleton, WI: Students march on administration after Palestine actions met with resistance
Appleton, WI – On October 25, Appleton Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) participated in the National Walk Out for Palestine and held a rally in support of the Palestinian resistance and to protest Lawrence University’s refusal to divest and condemn the apartheid state of Israel. Appleton SDS was joined by Lawrence University’s Young Democratic Socialists of America (YSDA) as well as close to 100 other students and multiple members of the faculty.
On October 13, Appleton SDS attempted to hang a banner condemning the United States’ role in funding Palestinian genocide in the university’s Warch Campus center. Campus security promptly forced Appleton SDS to take the banner down at the behest of the Lawrence administration.
The following Monday, October 16, Appleton SDS officially requested permission to hang the banner. Despite following Lawrence University’s exact instructions, Vice President for Student Life Chris Clarke still said no. In the final hours leading up to the walkout, Lawrence administration sent two emails attempting to intimidate the student body into not participating. They laughably told students to “take deep breaths and take in the natural beauty of the season” in lieu of joining the walkout. The students of Lawrence were not swayed and defied administration, walking out anyway,
At the rally, speaker and SDS member Audari Tamayo called out Clarke’s refusal to take a stance, saying, “To choose neutrality in the wake of an open declaration of genocide is to be complicit. This should come as no surprise: when asked whether he would condemn apartheid South Africa, Chris Clarke refused to answer. These are the types at the helm of our university – this cannot go on!”
“It is irresponsible of LU admin to not condemn the actions of the Israeli government while profiting from and occupying stolen land,” said Bailey Nez, a second-year student at LU.
To further call out the administration’s posturing, SDS member Caroline Murray said, “Lawrence University cannot claim to be an ‘anti-racist campus’ [as they so often do] if they refuse to condemn, boycott, and divest in the settler-colonial state of Israel. They’re just virtue signaling. The students of Lawrence University demand an end to United States aid to Israel; the students of Lawrence University demand LU administration support Palestinian liberation.”
To force the administration to listen to the demands, the student body marched to University President Laurie Carter’s office while chanting “LU admin – you’re on notice for political repression and sitting on your ass.” The students were calling out the cowardice and inaction of Lawrence's administration, as well as the attempted suppression of the student walkout.
Appleton SDS will continue to fight for Palestine’s right to independence. Despite attempting to intimidate the protesters with the excessive presence of campus security and administration at the rally, the students vastly outnumbered and overwhelmed them. Whether LU administration likes it or not, the Lawrence student body and many faculty members stand with Palestine and are opposed to the U.S.-funded occupation. The students will not concede until LU administration agrees to the demands to join the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel. The students of Lawrence say no U.S. aid to Israel and long live the Palestinian resistance!