BridgeUSA Students Discuss: Israel/Palestine Protests on Campus

In the last two weeks, dozens of protests surrounding the Gaza war have erupted on college campuses across the country. The University of Southern California canceled its valedictorian speech; Columbia University moved to all virtual classes for the rest of the semester, and many students across these campuses have either been detained or suspended.

We have chapters at several of these universities, including New York University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Southern California, Boston University and more. 

Here’s what some students at those chapters are saying about campus protests and how universities should respond. All answers were kept anonymous for student privacy.

*Views expressed in this post are not reflective of BridgeUSA nor its chapters. We are dedicated to engaging different perspectives and hosting constructive dialogue on pressing issues.

New York University

Protests and dialogue have been warped into ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. And I think it’s the university’s responsibility to address tribalistic tendencies outright. More faculty and administrators should be speaking about the conflict. After all, it is an academic institution. 

And while it may inconvenience students and faculty, the university should not shut down student activists unless violence is incited and hate speech prevails. I believe NYPD should be leveraged only in extreme cases, not to address ‘disorderly’ behavior.”

University of Maryland

Universities shouldn’t stifle the voices of one side of the conflict over the other — the situation is more nuanced than the administration seems to think it is, and reaction to stop things like chalking, student assembly, and other protest-activities doesn’t allow our student body to express itself. Our schools have a responsibility to protect and amplify student voices, not shut them down.”

Boston University

I think universities should respect groups using their first amendment right to protest. It’s hard for them to speak up on the issues at hand sometimes because of how contentious they may be, which I understand, but I think supporting ALL student protests is important because they’re all members of the university community.”

George Washington University

“Truthfully I have mixed feelings. I 100% support their right to protest, but it’s in tents. Encampments on private property are different. Especially at a university.”

Indiana University

Universities are designed to be beacons of light and truth in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, but right now they are failing to provide students with adequate places to hear and be heard. Only by listening and investing in people working to combat toxic campus polarization will universities see protests result in productive exchanges of ideas.”

Photo by BridgeUSA student at George Washington University.

University of Southern California

At least 90 arrests on campus in the last 24 hours. Really sad day to be a USC Student. Could’ve very easily been fixed by allowing students to air their grievances publicly without fear of intimidation by police. The school is making mistake after mistake, and took an active part in escalating what began as a peaceful protest, to a clear invalidation of students’ rights.

On the contrary, some of the words spoken by outside agitators were in some cases, very hateful. I understand how Jewish students on campus may feel unsafe, and now, due to the actions of the administration, things will continue to be more inflamed.