In a wave of student activism, members of the Georgetown University community have staged walkouts and organized fundraisers to call attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7 and Israel’s siege on Gaza, over 9,000 Palestinians have been killed according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, though the death toll is estimated to be higher than reported. Additionally, after Israel’s order that northern Gaza evacuate, 1.4 million people have been internally displaced. Israel’s blockade of the border has caused severe shortages of water, food and medicine, according to UNICEF.
While students have aimed to raise money for charitable organizations, others have called for a ceasefire, including at a walkout in Red Square on Oct. 26.
Shaddy Makhlouf (SFS ’25) started an initiative Nov. 1 to make, sell and deliver homemade hummus to Georgetown community members. Profits will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is currently working to provide humanitarian and relief efforts in the conflict.
Makhlouf said he felt motivated and compelled to play a part in alleviating the crisis and that the Georgetown community would be a great place to start.
“As the son of a Palestinian but more importantly just as a human being, I had been trying to figure out what I could do to bring the community together around saving human lives,” Makhlouf wrote to The Hoya. “Georgetown is known for its international affairs education and many of my classmates have been posting and talking about what’s going on, so I figured there would be people willing to pitch in.”
Makhlouf said he chose to donate to UNRWA because it provides medical supplies, which are vital as doctors and nurses there have reported having almost no medical resources.
“Doctors and nurses in Gaza are working around the clock in catastrophic conditions to save people in their community while regular citizens are pulling their friends and family out of the rubble,” Makhlouf wrote to The Hoya.
While he initially prepared for a maximum of 50 orders, Makhlouf now has over 200 hummus orders to fill. Makhlouf said the support he has received from the Georgetown community exemplifies a spirit of humanity and unity in the difficult times.
“I am blown away by the support for this,” Makhlouf wrote. “I just want to say an enormous thank you to the Georgetown community for coming together to support this initiative. I can’t emphasize how much this means to me.”
Other students participated in a walkout organized by Georgetown Students for Justice in Palestine, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.
Iklil Bouhmouch (GRD ’24), a second-year master’s student in Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, attended and helped advertise the walkout.
“At the rally, I saw displays of bravery and solidarity as people carried signs and joined the chants — many of which have been used in the nation-wide protests,” Bouhmouch wrote to The Hoya. “I felt proud of those who showed up and spoke out, and proud of the organizers who, despite their grief, were able to put it all together.”
Iman Saymeh, resident minister for the LXR and Nevils dorms, also attended the walkout and said it was a privilege to empower the students and watch them advocate for human rights.
“Having the opportunity to use our voice in an effective way is an important skill that must be developed within us,” Saymeh wrote to The Hoya. “Taking a risk and speaking truth to power in wanting equality and peace in our world is a courageous step for the students to take.”
According to a university spokesperson, Georgetown encourages students to exercise their right to free expression in places like Red Square.
“While members of our community exercise freedom of speech, we work towards a living learning community that is free of bias and geared toward thoughtful, respectful dialogue,” the spokesperson added.
Saymeh added that she was able to hold safe spaces outside the protests for diverse groups of students to privately voice their feelings, concerns and opinions amid the crisis.
“As a resident minister on campus, my purpose is to create and welcome opportunities for all students to come and express their thoughts and feelings. Never underestimate the power of unity, community, open conversations, and prayers,” Saymeh wrote.
Makhlouf said the volume of donations he has received has shown the power of raising awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza at Georgetown.
“This has shown me how generous and caring people are. The majority of people donating aren’t Palestinian yet chose to spend their money to alleviate the suffering of people in Gaza,” Makhlouf said. “What is happening in Gaza right now is a human issue. I think we can all agree that saving lives is incredibly important.”