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Villanova Community Shows Support for Palestine

Dylan Johnson
Villanova Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized and held a protest in support of Palestine, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Villanova Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized and held a protest in support of Palestine on April 30, 2024. The protest, which took place at the Riley Ellipse and then relocated to the steps outside the Connelly Center, consisted of approximately 100 students and staff members standing and marching in solidarity, dressing in black and chanting in support of ending violence in the Gaza strip. 

Junior Bailey Proctor-Madden spoke on the hopes behind the protest of what the organization wished for the Villanova community to get out of today’s events.

“The goal of today’s demonstration was just basically to make Villanovans aware this is still an issue,” Proctor-Madden said. “I feel like we have an apathy on campus to just ignore things that [do not] impact us directly. So, I think it’s really important that we continue to raise awareness in any way possible and fight to call for a ceasefire.” 

The organization aimed for this protest to be disruptive, while remaining respectful to the greater Villanova community. Students at Villanova received an email at 11:34 a.m. that morning from Kathleen Byrnes, who serves as the Vice President of Student Life.

“At Villanova, we believe in the right of our students to express their own personal viewpoints in a civil and peaceful manner,” Byrnes wrote. “We expect members of our community to uphold the University’s community ideals of mutual love and respect for individual differences.” 

The University has not shared a statement on the issues regarding Palestine and Israel, and instead aims to support students on campus. 

 “As a Catholic and Augustinian University, Villanova is called upon to support students of all identities and political viewpoints on our campus,” Byrnes wrote.

However, the students involved with SJP disagree with the administration’s stance, calling out the University for previous behaviors showcasing that the school will make statements regarding global issues, and are choosing to stay silent about this conflict specifically. 

“I find it interesting for those who believe that Villanova chooses to remain apolitical…to be the reason why they’re choosing not to call out this violence,” an anonymous student said. “However, this cannot be further from the truth. Villanova has a precedence of being political. They have a precedence of speaking on humanitarian crises. They have a precedence of speaking on violations of human rights.” 

The student shared a statement sent out by Villanova in regards to the Ukraine and Russia conflicts, contrasting the University taking a stance in global political issues previous to this call for action. 

Villanova is just one of hundreds of campuses nationwide where students are aiming to take action against violence in Palestine, oftentimes with these efforts being shot down by administrations, local police forces and with the media painting a negative light on the events. 

“It is disgraceful at this point. It is oppressive and it is oppressing free speech, freedom of expression and assembly,” Proctor-Madden said. “At the end of the day, it is because people do not like what we are saying…For students to be met with police presence, to be met with just acts of aggression from the state that are just unprecedented is absolutely disgusting, and is why we felt it was so important to mobilize here, because we are going to stand with students across the country.” 

While appealing to students may have been a goal of today’s protest, SJP primarily aimed it as a call to the administration for action, for calling for the violence in Gaza to end with a ceasefire.

“We wanted to show the administration that there is a lot of support on this campus for calling to an end to the genocide in Gaza,” an anonymous Peace and Justice student said. “So we are hoping that the University administrators will do the right thing and call for a ceasefire.”

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Lauren Armstrong
Lauren Armstrong, Co-News Editor
Lauren Armstrong is a sophomore Public Service and Administration and Communication double major and is in her first year as one of the Co-News Editors for 2024. Lauren’s passion for politics and on campus events has led her to cover a variety of stories since her freshman year. Lauren prides herself in her very detailed and color-coded Google Calendar, and when she is not running around campus between classes and a million meetings, she can be found making the best lattes at the Conn Holy Grounds.
Finn Courtney
Finn Courtney, Co-News Editor
Finn Courtney is a freshman Communications and Political Science double major and is entering his first year as one of the Co-News editors for 2024. With a passion for politics and sports, Finn's been a writer for as long as he can remember, was a four-year editor and leader on his high school paper and as a freshman has covered a variety of stories for The Villanovan, City of Basketball Love, and has been reposted in the Philadelphia Inquirer. When he's not typing up a story or filming with Villanova Television, you can surely catch him procrastinating on something, watching a Mets game (it's their year!) or trying to just live life to the fullest.
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