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Louisiana: Loyola and Tulane universities deny space for Palestine vigil, students walk out

By staff

Drummer plays to crowd of pro-Palestine protesters.  | Photo credit: Johari/Dillard for Palestine

New Orleans, LA – On Friday, April 26, around noon, Students for a Democratic Society at Loyola University New Orleans and Tulane University held a joint walk out that led to a rally of over 150 people gathered in the front of the two universities. After a few speakers, a group of student organizers took the street and other students, faculty and community members followed. The rally turned into a street occupation. “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Whose school? Our school!” participants chanted.

For Tulane students, this action was in response to Tulane University not allowing students to hold a public vigil on campus, as well as the university's direct support for Israel. For Loyola students, this action was in response to the school not meeting the demands set by the students earlier in the academic semester. These demands called on the university to provide a space for Palestinian, Muslim and Arab students to grieve and express their feelings without censorship, for the president of the university to release a public statement condemning the genocide currently being carried out on the Palestinian people, and to ensure that the new director of multicultural affairs (when appointed) has the resources and support required to effectively fulfill the position.

Mina Mahfouz, a Sudanese and Muslim senior at Loyola, talked about the repression that students on campus have been facing since the start of the fall semester.

“Last semester was a discouraging one for a lot of us. Loyola disappointed us in more ways than, I think, any of us anticipated. Not only did Loyola’s administration deny us a vigil multiple times, but they threw a few of us some bogus misconduct charges for organizing around campus, ignored our many bias reports and allowed for a handful of professors to spew genocidal rhetoric on and off campus,” Mahfouz said.

As students sat in the street, they continued to chant along with the rhythm of a bass drum “Up, up with liberation! Down, down with occupation!”

“Students are escalating and it is not spontaneous. It is because students are organized. This is exactly what the ruling class fears: a movement with a revolutionary character, one that sides with the oppressed,” said Juleea Berthelot, a student organizer with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The crowd continued to occupy the street for an hour, disrupting business as usual in uptown New Orleans.

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