Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Lobo The Independent Voice of UNM since 1895
Latest Issue
Read our print edition on Issuu

“Rally for Rafah” held during New Student Orientation

University of New Mexico students, alumni and community members held a pro-Palestine rally on UNM main campus during the first session of First-Year Summer 2024 New Student Orientation on Thursday, May 30.

The rally followed a May 26 attack by the Israeli army on Rafah, where at least 45 people sheltering in tents located in a “safe area” were killed, according to Al Jazeera.

During the rally, UNM alumni and former College Democrats President Rakin Faruk spoke about the circulation of videos that show the attack on Rafah.

“We have become so desensitized to these videos on our phones but the Palestinians that are suffering this brutality are not desensitized to what they're facing every day,” Faruk said.

The protest’s goal was to “apply pressure” on UNM administration to disclose potential University investments with Israel and divest from those investments, according to UNM School of Law alumni Diego Guerrerortiz.

UNM committed to disclose its investment portfolio to the public by August 2024. UNM has not committed to divestment from any specific investments.

On May 30, about 70 protesters rallied at the Duck Pond before silently marching to the fine arts building, where they displayed banners near groups of new students participating in orientation.

Protesters draped the banners reading “UNM Brutalizes Students” and “Disclose Divest Declare,” from the roof-level bridge attached to the building. They chanted “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest” and “UNM, your hands are red, 40,000 people dead.”

Protesters then marched to Cornell Mall where they passed a group of onlookers – some of whom were parents of incoming students. Several of the onlookers joined in chanting with protesters as they passed by.

“I completely support them. I've been out here with the encampment, providing them with groceries,” Maya Fernandez, a parent of an incoming student and chanting onlooker, said.

At Cornell Mall, protesters chanted, chalked pro-Palestine messages on the pavement and displayed the same banners. Some also spoke to new students before the students were directed into Mesa Vista Hall.

Two new students briefly joined the protest before NSO leaders asked them to return to the group.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox

Arthur Sewall-Peelor, an incoming freshman participating in orientation, respected the protest but felt anxious about protesters speaking to the orientation group, they said.

“I think the protest is cool. It’s cool that it’s happening here,”  Sewall-Peelor said.

The protesters’ chanting at Cornell Mall interfered with NSO leaders answering new students’ questions, according to incoming student Joshua Westphal.

“I agree with the message. But also, not the time and place to (protest),” Westphal said.

UNM Police Department Lieutenant Guadalupe Guevara was present at the Duck Pond for the beginning of the rally, but offered to leave shortly after student protesters approached him for a conversation. Faruk told Guevara that the group would feel safer if he left.

“I am so grateful that all of you came up to me … that we have some dialogue,” Guevara told 


Faruk expressed concern to Guevara about the UNMPD response to previous pro-Palestine protests. 

On April 30, five UNM students were arrested during an occupation of the Student Union Building by pro-Palestine protesters. UNMPD and New Mexico State Police officers tackled and pepper-sprayed protesters, with one UNMPD officer pointing his taser at a legal observer.

Officers responded to previous protests with excessive force and brutality, Faruk said. 

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt, and I really… believe that this event today is not something that I feel you need to worry about,” Faruk told Guevara.

Guevara congratulated Guerrerortiz on his recent graduation. Guerrerortiz said he felt threatened by this, as the two had never met.

“He called me out by name and said, ‘Congratulations, Diego’ … That was him showing me that he knows who I am despite me never giving him that identity or that I graduated,” Guerrerortiz said. 

After Guevara left, police presence was absent for the remainder of the protest.

In response to the protest, the NSO Discover Fair — featuring booths with information about organizations on campus — was moved into a private space in Johnson Center, where only UNM employees were allowed to enter with their UNM IDs. Faruk and others from the rally led a booth at the Discover Fair on Friday, May 30. They spoke to new students about divestment, the goals of the protests and recent and historic use of police force on protesters at UNM, Faruk said.

“This is just the beginning. This is a heavily organized movement, and we're not going anywhere until Palestine is free,” Guerrerortiz said.  

Nate Bernard is a beat reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyLobo

Paloma Chapa is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @paloma_chapa88

Paloma Chapa

Paloma Chapa is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @paloma_chapa88

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Lobo