January 17, 2024, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) obliterated Gaza’s last standing university (United Nations). Currently, college students all over the world are performing sit-ins and peaceful protests in solidarity with the Palestinian community. Israel’s settler colonialism has only escalated over the past six months, with a death toll of over 34,000 people, including 5,479 students, 261 teachers and 95 professors. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports an additional 7,819 students and 756 teachers have been injured, 80% of schools either damaged or destroyed, leaving 6,25,000 students without access to education, a calamity known as “scholasticide,” UN experts say. There has been no indication of a ceasefire, especially with the U.S Congress having approved an aid package of $26.4 billion in unconditional military and other assistance to Israel.   

Students from Columbia University in New York, USA, to Sciences Po in Paris, France, have set up solidarity encampments and blocked access to their institutions in protest of the genocide. A student statement taken by Al Jazeera explains, “We have a few demands but one of them is to start investigating all of the ties they [Sciences Po] have with the state of Israel, which [are] academic and financial.” Additionally, Al Jazeera reports action from Sorbonne University in Paris, University of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, Sapienza University in Italy, and University of Leeds, Leicester and Warwick in England. The encampment-style protests first began at Columbia University with about 50 tents set up, and have since popped up at more than 30 universities in every corner of the country with even more worldwide. The significance of the tents is to represent Israel’s decimation of Gazan homes, forcing Palestinians onto the streets and into tents that do little to protect them from the elements and continued bombings. 

The Middle East Eye shared an Instagram post explaining that the protests call for universities to divest from Israeli companies and weapons manufacturers, the US military stop supporting Israel, and a complete and lasting ceasefire. They also want “schools to cut ties with Israeli academic institutions, which they say have played a key role in Israel’s occupation of Palestine.” This is not a new struggle, as “over the past several years, there have been a number of different student bodies, faculty groups, and colleges within universities that have adopted the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.” Despite Donald Trump and President Joe Biden’s accusations of these protests being violent, a study by Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a US based non-profit, found that 99% of them have been peaceful, the only exception being counter-demonstrations in support of Zionism and Israel. However, TRT World says the police have intervened 4 times more frequently in pro-Palestine gatherings than pro-Israel gatherings, using brute force and detaining hundreds of college students. 

Student activism and revolution has been a constant in the history of the United States, like the Vietnam War protests at Kent State University in 1970 that led to the devastating massacre in which the Ohio National Guard murdered 4 students and injured 9 by firing into the crowd. These kinds of movements and rebellions seek positive reform and humanitarian justice, championed by resilient and educated individuals who very clearly know what they want, despite a world of adults trying to tell them otherwise. Most importantly, Palestinian children and students are acknowledging and appreciating the protests, giving them fuel and hope to fight for a better future.