Over 100 students staged a walkout and gathered in Western Washington University’s Red Square on Wednesday, Oct. 25, to demand a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
The demonstration was part of a national student walkout calling for an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza. Western’s Arab Student Association organized the event on campus.
Students were asked to leave their classrooms at 12:30 p.m. to show their rejection of violence against Palestinians.
“[I hope that people gain] awareness. Awareness and the drive to do something, to act, because this is our money and we are involved whether we want to accept that or not,” said Asch Qattawi, fourth-year Western student and honorary president of ASA.
There are more than 70 years of history behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The most recent Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7, 2023.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Students United for Palestinian Equality and Return UW participated in a walkout on the quad of the University of Washington in Seattle, according to their Instagram.
Among their demands was that UW cut all ties with weapons companies, including Boeing, which has delivered bombs to Israel.
“We’re paying for an education through these institutions, and our money is funding the bombing of civilians, innocent, innocent lives,” Qattawi said.
Western also has connections to Boeing, including the Learning Together Program, which offers degree programs and professional development courses and The Boeing Company Scholarship through the College of the Environment.
The students of ASA said they are frustrated by the lack of acknowledgement from Sabah Randhawa, Western’s president, regarding the atrocities occurring in Gaza.
Three hours after the demonstration, Randhawa released a statement titled, “Thinking of your safety and wellbeing” over email.
“While we do not have control over external events, we do have a responsibility for the space we define as ‘Western,’” Randhawa wrote. “I understand that my most important duty is to ensure the safety of all individuals who are part of this space, and each of us carries responsibility on how we share this space with other members of the community.”
Seddie LeBlanc (they/she) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. They are a third-year journalism student at Western with a minor in law, diversity, and justice. In her free time, she enjoys reading and hanging out with friends. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.