Student organizations call for a rally to ‘affirm and push’ demands of divestment, academic amnesty

A rally held by SUPER and community members on May 28 in front of the Memorial Union.The rally was held in solidarity with the people of Palestine and in response to what SUPER claims is a lack of response by Oregon State University to the group’s demands.
A rally held by SUPER and community members on May 28 in front of the Memorial Union.The rally was held in solidarity with the people of Palestine and in response to what SUPER claims is a lack of response by Oregon State University to the group’s demands.
Riley LeCocq

Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights at Oregon State University held a rally in the Memorial Union quad, which gathered a crowd of nearly 200, on Tuesday.

After nearly two weeks student organizers set up an encampment in the middle of campus, SUPER continues to demand that OSU disclose and divest from companies that support Israel. Now, they are also asking for an academic boycott and amnesty for students participating in the encampment in addition to their original demands.

Speakers addressed a crowd of nearly 200 regarding what they said was the school’s role in the deaths of 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza over the last seven months.

“We will stand here for as long as it takes us to no longer be complicit in another historical event that will be studied for decades,” said one of the speakers at the rally. “I implore you all to continue to stand on the right side of history and keep pushing against the status quo that has continued to fail us.”

SUPER posted on Instagram about the rally on Monday, saying the goal was to “affirm and push” their demands.

Student demonstrators painted their hands red to symbolize the blood of those killed in the conflict. “OSU your hands are red, 40,000 people dead,” the crowd chanted as drums kept a steady cadence with the rain rushing over the MU quad.

The speakers also spoke about the bombings that happened in the refugee tent city in Rafah over the weekend, and according to SUPER, OSU continues to “normalize” what is happening in Gaza by continuing academic operations.

“No business as usual while Palestinians endure genocide,” SUPER stated on Instagram.

Masha, a student member of SUPER and media coordinator, said their negotiations with OSU administrators have been unsuccessful.

“OSU says that they’re having good faith negotiations with us. They’re not letting us meet with any higher authority that can meet our demands, and while this is happening, they’re sending bad faith code of conduct charges to students and organizations that support us (SUPER), trying to punish organizations that support the cause,” Masha said.

SUPER claims that OSU administrators continue to repress and sanction student voices on campus. Instead, members of SUPER have been met with unjust student conduct charges and these charges are being extended to organizations that show support for SUPER as well.

In the months leading up to the encampment, SUPER requested to meet with President Murthy and OSU administrators to discuss the demands of the organization and how to go about addressing them.

However, SUPER claims that these meetings went unscheduled.

“We’re here to demand a meeting with President Murthy or the Provost, somebody that will give us what we’re asking for, and that has not been done yet,” Masha said.

Since the encampment went up, SUPER has been negotiating with the Office of the Dean of Students.

“Each time they give us an offer, it’s very, very, very pathetic, and doesn’t satisfy our demands at all. That’s why we (SUPER) are insisting that we meet with Murthy or the Provost because they are the only people that have the power to give us what we want,” Masha said.

Student Code of Conduct and Community Standards representatives did not respond to comment.

Masha said SUPER is prepared to keep organizing on campus and continue demonstrations that speak to their cause and demands.

“We’re going to do whatever is needed, whether it’s actions like the encampment, more rallies—whatever it takes, we’re going to keep going and get what we want,” Masha said.

Graduate Students for Palestine at Oregon State University posted an open letter on behalf of OSU faculty that supports SUPER and other organizations on campus speaking up for the Palestinian people.

“These students are actively practicing the values that we have teaching them at OSU: leadership; cross-cultural communications; diversity, equity and inclusion; local and global community engagement; and most importantly the willingness to follow one’s conscience,” the letter states. “We request complete amnesty and the dropping of all charges for all students participating in the encampment, including those who have already received Code of Conduct violations.”

The letter closes by reminding OSU of its commitments to diversity, peace, free speech and the future of the students at OSU.

The letter does not specify who the faculty and staff members signed are, only that “20 named members of Oregon State University faculty and staff” signed it.

Rick Staggenborg, president of the Mid-Valley Chapter of Veterans for Peace is one of the community members in attendance who has been following Corvallis Palestine Solidarity organization since before the encampment. 

“Corvallis Palestine Solidarity is in this for the long run,” Staggenborg said. “When they say ‘brick by brick, wall by wall, Palestine will free us all’, that is very meaningful and a lot of people don’t realize this can lead to a greater anti-war movement.”

One of the speakers at the rally acknowledged those in attendance as “a testament to the fact that we do not accept the meager steps that OSU has taken” and that supporters of SUPER will be the ones to change the ongoing status quo of complicity. 

“When we hold rallies, and more community-type meetings people want to show up. I think for people, it’s hard to know how to help or what they can do without risking themselves,” Masha said. “As we navigate this situation, we’ve been learning to invite people in and help them find what they can do.”

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