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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Coalition Stages Walkout, Calls for University Divestment from Companies Supporting Israeli Military

Over 120 Georgetown University students, faculty and staff walked out from their classes and activities Feb. 8 to urge the university administration to divest from corporations developing technology for the Israeli military. 

The walkout, which took place on the 125th day of Israeli bombardment on Gaza, marked the first rally coordinated by the newfound Divestment Coalition, a coalition of six student and faculty-led groups advocating for Palestinians and calling for a ceasefire. The coalition collectively presses for Georgetown to divest, or discontinue its business investments, from major companies like Amazon and Alphabet Inc., Google’s holding company, that hold contracts with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The Divestment Coalition merges Georgetown’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a student organization that supports Palestine and calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, and Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP), a pro-Palestinian university faculty and staff organization,  GU Medical Students for Palestine; Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), an anti-Zionist association of Jewish college students; the Georgetown branch of Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP); and Zeytoun, a Georgetown group that advocates for decolonization in Southwest Asia and North Africa.

 Akanksha Sinha (SFS ’23), a current staff member at The Earth Commons and the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service (CSJ) and a representative of FSJP, said the Georgetown community must be willing to forego the comforts of their daily lives in order to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“We must boycott, no matter the personal cost,” Sinha said at the walkout. “We must divest, no matter the personal cost. We must speak up, no matter the personal cost. That cost will never compare to the 30,000 lives lost in Gaza in just four months, or to the thousands and thousands lost in Palestine during these 75 years of brutal, genocidal occupation.” 

Aamir Jamil/The Hoya | Over 120 Georgetown University students, faculty and staff walked out from their classes and activities on Feb. 8 to urge the university administration to divest from corporations developing technology for the Israeli military and to deliver a community statement to the Office of the President.

Selina Al-Shihabi (SFS ’26), a member of SJP, said boycotting, divestment and sanctioning — both on campus and in national initiatives — can help to hinder the IDF’s military efforts by causing them to lose major sources of funding, adding that every student who ceased to buy a Starbucks beverage had an impact.

“It’s making a difference worldwide, with Starbucks losing over $11 billion,” Al-Shihabi said. 

Al-Shihabi said the university and U.S. government need to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“125 days of missed opportunity for this university and from this government to call for a ceasefire,” Al-Shihabi said at the walkout. “125 days of missed opportunity to save over 30,000 people. 125 days of missed opportunity to save over 16,000 children. Children just like you and me, with dreams, hope, aspirations.” 

In its Oct. 7 attack, Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and captured around 250 hostages, 112 of whom have been rescued and 101 of whom are believed to be alive in captivity. In the ensuing months, the Israeli military has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in Gaza, along with numerous United Nations workers, journalists and healthcare workers. 

Israel’s actions have sparked pro-Palestinian protests across U.S. college campuses and caused South Africa to raise allegations of genocide against the IDF in the International Court of Justice, which ruled on Jan. 26 that Israel must make a concerted effort to prevent genocide in Gaza.

Iklil Bouhmouch (GRD ’24), a representative of Zeytoun, said calls for divestment had precedent, as Georgetown students successfully convinced the university’s board of directors to divest approximately $9 million from companies financially supporting apartheid in South Africa in 1986.

“We asked you for support because we know that student activism works,” Bouhmouch said at the walkout. “You cannot remain silent while university investments fund the machinery of oppression and destruction, and our institution benefits from investment and dividends earned through systemic violence.” 

Miriam Siegel (CAS ’26), a member of JVP, said her Jewish identity inspired her to advocate for divestment, as she said Georgetown’s administration prioritizes funding companies that support IDF rather than paying university workers.

“Personally, I have never found that my Jewish identity could be tethered to any nation-state, especially not to one whose existence is dependent on the oppression of another,” Siegel said at the walkout.

After the protest, representatives from the coalition’s organizations attempted to deliver a printed statement signed by members of the Georgetown community to University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95). 

Unable to deliver the statement since DeGioia and his staff were in a meeting, 20 students returned Feb. 12, delivering the statement to Vice President and Chief of Staff Joseph Ferrara, who accepted the statement and told the students the president’s office would work to set up a meeting. 

A university spokesperson said the university was planning a meeting to discuss with the students, adding that the university is dedicated to a safe campus environment.

“We are reviewing it now and are planning to meet with representatives of the groups that delivered the letter to discuss their concerns,” a university spokesperson wrote to The Hoya. “We are deeply committed to fostering a safe, welcoming and inclusive community that respects the inherent dignity and shared humanity of each Hoya, promotes the free expression of ideas, and enables every member of our community to thrive.”

Anna Wessels (GRD ’24), a press liaison for Zeytoun, said Georgetown has the power to influence other schools to follow its example due to its status as an authority in foreign policy.

“Even though we know that Georgetown is not going to be the be-all end-all in ending this genocidal attack on the Palestinian people, it can make a difference,” Wessels told The Hoya.  “Every institution calling for a ceasefire and calling for the end of the occupation matters. The idea is that there should not be business as usual on campus, especially in D.C. while our government is funding a genocide.” 

Sinha said the Divestment Coalition hopes that if Georgetown adopts the message of the community statement, other schools will follow suit as they did with South African apartheid.

“We know that making a change at Georgetown will have a ripple effect,” Sinha said. “And we are hoping that Georgetown will heed its own values and make sure that happens.” 

The article originally said there were over 28,000 Palestinian civilians killed. It has been changed to over 28,000 Palestinians to reflect that some of the deaths included combatants affiliated with Hamas.

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About the Contributor
Catherine Alaimo
Catherine Alaimo, Senior News Editor
Catherine Alaimo is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences from Scottsdale, Ariz., studying psychology with minors in journalism and French. She can perfectly impersonate Anna Delvey from "Inventing Anna." [email protected]
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