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FSU students disrupt board of trustees meeting to demand divestment from Israel

By Tavish Bryan

Students backing Palaestine at Tallahassee Board of Trustees meeting.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Tallahassee, FL – On November 10, approximately 30 students at Florida State University attended FSU’s Board of Trustees meeting to demand the university divest from Israel. The students were organized by the Florida state chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (FSU SDS).

FSU SDS had three demands of FSU and its board of trustees. They demanded that President Mccullough retract a statement made on October 10 where he expressed sympathy for Israel but made zero mention of Palestinians; that FSU divest from all entities, such as Boeing, to which FSU’s Aero-Propulsion, Mechatronics, and Energy programs partner with, and which contribute to genocide in Palestine; and for FSU to end ties with Mayanot’s Birthright program which pays for students to travel to Israel for ten days, encouraging further settlement of Palestinian land.

The event was supposed to begin inside the Devoe L. Moore University Center with students making their demands in the time allotted for public commentary at 3 p.m.. However, upon arriving, they were informed by campus police that public comment had already finished, despite multiple affirmations by leading members of SDS who verified the timing of public comment through official university channels. Officials cited the agenda proceeding faster than expected as their excuse to exclude public statements.

Even though public comment had been stifled, SDS was still allowed entry. The students silently observed the proceedings for a time. During a question and answer period, one member loudly questioned the whole room as to why the board had removed public comment, demanding, “Why was public comment expedited so we could not speak? Why won’t FSU divest from Israel and Boeing?” – there was no response from the board. Students chanted “Free free Palestine!” and “FSU, you can’t hide! We charge you with genocide!” as they were escorted out of the meeting by campus police.

The rally continued as planned with those who had arranged to make public comments speaking through a megaphone pointed at the window where the meeting was taking place.

Joelle Nuñez, president of FSU SDS, was suspicious of the reasoning FSU gave for the lack of public comment at the meeting, stating, “It seems like they changed [the timing] right before we got here. So instead, we are having this rally to express our demands and demand that FSU stop being complicit and stop endorsing this genocide.”

Ravza Cayir, a Muslim member of SDS, expressed frustration at FSU’s statement supporting Israel and administration’s continuous silencing of Palestinian students, shouting “It is not very difficult to speak up and say that genocide is bad, but our city officials and school administration is not brave enough to do even that. Children are dying every day, yet they say nothing. I am not proud to be an FSU student right now.”

In the wake of Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians, FSU SDS has raised their voices to Florida State regardless of roadblocks. A larger trend of pro-Palestine censorship has already taken place, including the recent bipartisan vote by congress to censure Michigan's Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib – the only Palestinian American member of Congress – which demonstrates a clear prejudice against those in vocal support of Palestine.

With hopes to end FSU’s investment in Zionist organizations, SDS members vowed to return to as many board of trustees meetings as necessary for their demands to be heard.

FSU SDS is sharing the following petition as part of their campaign:

#TallahasseeFL #Palestine #StudentMovement #SDS #FSU #AntiWarMovement