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Students stand in support of Palestine at Regents meeting

Protesters cite 1985 resolution

On the afternoon of Feb. 15, Protesters entered the Board of Regents meeting and stood silently along the walls, donning keffiyehs, Palestinian Flags and stickers that read “Freedom for Palestine” to stand united with those speaking in support of a divestment resolution.

Just before dozens of protesters walked out of class and gathered at Zimmerman Plaza to listen to speakers discuss the ongoing crises in Gaza, they marched throughout the University of New Mexico ringing chants of “No Peace on Stolen Land” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” across campus.

Before entering the Regents meeting for public comment, students stood outside of the windows to listen to more speakers. The chants from the group were audible from within the walls of the meeting, as heard in the livestream

Several student and community groups including - The Muslim Student Association, Law Students Against Imperialism, UNM College Democrats and Kiva Club - collaborated on the walkout.

In total 16 people spoke during the public comment at the Regents meeting, calling for the Regents to issue a divestment resolution, and address their lack of action. UNM, as well as several other entities, have received grants from the U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations, according to Jewish Virtual Library.

On Oct. 11, UNM leadership sent out an all-University email detailing its “response to the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza.”

“We express our condolences for the loss of life and stand in solidarity with the members of our community who have family, friends, and colleagues in the affected area and who may be directly impacted by the conflict,” the email read.

Rakin Faruk, President of UNM College Democrats, said that this was not the first time organizations tried to speak to the Regents about a divestment.

“(At) UNM, we have connections to some of the largest military bases in the country. It's ridiculous that a place like UNM hasn’t said anything yet. It’s important that the Board of Regents hear us out — this isn’t the first time they would say something political, so they shouldn’t be able to put out that argument,” Faruk said.

During public comment, several protesters referenced the 1985 resolution that the Regents created, which detailed “a policy statement regarding the divestment and reinvestment of funds now held in South Africa, and also to develop policies for future University investments,” according to the Regents meeting on May, 7 1985.

The resolution advocated for divestment from South Africa during the apartheid, in response to human rights violations, according to Andre Montoya-Barthelemy, public commentator and faculty member at UNM’s School of Medicine. 

“As you read the text of the resolution, it becomes immediately apparent how perfectly it maps onto Israel’s treatment of Palestine,” Montoya-Barthelemy said.

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Sandra Akkad, faculty member with UNM Peace and Global Justice Studies, spoke during the meeting about the lack of humanity evident in conflict in Gaza, by reading “If I Must Die,” a poem written by a Palestinian poet Professor Refaat Alareer shortly before his death in Gaza following an Israeli airstrike.

“I urge you. On behalf of every single child, woman, and man in Gaza – please adopt a resolution for an immediate ceasefire. Please recognize their humanity,” Akkad said.

52% of Americans support a permanent ceasefire, according to Data For Progress. During public comment, Faruk referenced several statistics regarding American opinion on the occupation.

“How many students at this University have to stand outside of these doors and give public comments within these walls for you to support the same means,” Faruk said. 

Karina Bolaños is the Culture Editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at 

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