Students for Liberty protest on and off campus
Founder and President of Students for Liberty Belal Bahader said last Thursday’s demonstration to raise awareness about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was great.
Bahader said the group started handing out papers in the middle of the Green at 2:25 p.m. and stopped around 3 p.m.
“We passed out around 30 to 50 papers,” Bahader said. “We had three club members out there, which is usually the average amount of people out there during these little actions of awareness.”
He said the students did not aim to “bother anyone” where they were handing out papers with numbers of deaths caused by the conflict.
Bahader added that the club includes student perspectives on the issue.
“Also, we added some quotations of college writers about the conflict, to give a perspective that is not media based, and to encourage the readers to ultimately do their own research,” Bahader said.
He said that the organization aims “to promote awareness and activism in effective and efficient ways.”
“What we do is a different call to action,” Bahader said. “We do not chant and yell for justice…at least not yet.”
Bahader said most of the students seemed interested in the demonstration.
“They certainly took the paper with thankful impressions and that is all I needed,” Bahader said. “Some asked questions, others ignored the demonstrators.”
Bahader said that the demonstration is a good start.
“As long as one person goes back home and searches up about the conflict or becomes influenced by our actions, we are satisfied,” Bahader said.
Later Bahader, with students, Wallace Weaver, Christian Powe and Raul Auso, held another Israeli-Palestinian conflict awareness demonstration at the Christmas Tree Lighting as a separate event from the Students for Liberty organization.
Bahader said although the event was not connected to Students for Liberty, club representatives showed up.
“It went really well for the cause,” Bahader said. “We held up a sign saying ‘Tis the Season for Justice,’ with pictures of the Israeli and Palestinian flag and conflict cartoons.”
According to Bahader, the students tried to be respectful of the tree lighting as a religious event and only found that one student had a problem with it.
“It was important for us to be sensitive to the religious spirit,” Bahader said. “And that is what we did, and thankfully only one person had an issue with us, and that was dealt with smoothly.”
Bahader said some students thanked the demonstrators, while others ignored them, but the ones who ignore the demonstration are the ones who remember it.
“They may remember us as ‘those people’ who were at the tree lighting promoting justice rather than watching and enjoying the Christmas tree lighting, even though we had a good time anyway. That is the beauty of activism,” Bahader said.
He said they received a lot of interest and questions from students.
“Events like these are really important to get the message out there because of how large the audience is, but we just had to make sure that it was appropriate and for the right cause,” he said.
Bahader said he stresses that this is only the beginning of the activism movements and that he believes students should be more involved in these types of demonstrations.
“That is the point of college, or being a college student,” Bahader said. “Academics, yeah, it’s a big part of college, but there is also real-world learning that needs to be done, and we need to make sure our voices as students are always heard no matter what.”
Lindsay Rittenhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.