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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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Cyrus Korir, the first place finisher of the elite mens category of the 2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon, had never run a half marathon in his life before Sunday. In the final stretch of the race, he outran second place finisher and defending champion Julius Kogo to take the victory. (Photo by Jane Millard | Visual Editor)
Pitt students take on Pittsburgh Marathon weekend
By Camille de Jesus, Staff Writer • May 22, 2024

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Cyrus Korir, the first place finisher of the elite mens category of the 2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon, had never run a half marathon in his life before Sunday. In the final stretch of the race, he outran second place finisher and defending champion Julius Kogo to take the victory. (Photo by Jane Millard | Visual Editor)
Pitt students take on Pittsburgh Marathon weekend
By Camille de Jesus, Staff Writer • May 22, 2024

Student walkout, rally shows support for Palestine

Deena+Eldaour%2C+an+organizer+of+the+rally%2C+speaks+at+the+protest+calling+for+an+immediate+end+to+the+siege+on+Gaza+on+CMU%E2%80%99s+campus+on+Thursday+afternoon.+
Amaya Lobato Rivas | Assistant Visual Editor
Deena Eldaour, an organizer of the rally, speaks at the protest calling for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza on CMU’s campus on Thursday afternoon.

While standing among a crowd of people chanting “free free Palestine” and “ceasefire now,” Farida Abdelmoneum called violence against Palestinians an “injustice.”

“There’s kids, mothers, old people dying and it’s just extremely sad to see and we just want people to know and be educated on what’s happening over there,” Abdelmoneum, a senior studying statistics and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University, said.

About 200 people participated in a walkout called “Shut it Down for Palestine” to show support for Palestinians on Thursday afternoon. Students and community members met at the “Walking to the Sky” sculpture on CMU’s campus to hear speakers voice their thoughts on the ongoing Israeli attacks on Palestinians.

Since the conflict escalated on Oct. 7, over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, with over 4,000 of those deaths being children under the age of 18.

A statue wrapped in the Palestinian flag at the rally calling for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza on CMU’s campus on Thursday afternoon. (Amaya Lobato Rivas | Assistant Visual Editor)

Muhammad Ali, an organizer for the walkout, said he views the protest method as representative of larger societal issues.

“I think that a walkout is symbolic of our denial of the fact that institutions that we are a part of actively engage in oppressive systems,” Ali, a junior politics and philosophy major at Pitt, said.

Ali emphasized the importance of Americans speaking up against oppression “in all of its forms.”

“We need to understand that, now, the United States acts in an incredibly global fashion, and that as citizens of the United States, we have a responsibility to speak out whenever the U.S. acts in a manner that is detrimental to the entirety of the human species,” Ali said.

The walkout was one of many pro-Palestinian walkouts across the country on Thursday, with walkouts occurring in New York, South Carolina and Arizona, among other locations.

A protester holds up a sign at the rally calling for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza on CMU’s campus on Thursday afternoon. (Amaya Lobato Rivas | Assistant Visual Editor)

Hours before the walkout, Carnegie Mellon posted an Instagram story and sent an email to its community stating that the rally “is not approved to take place on our campus.”

“Though the administration has spoken with groups at CMU who have promoted the event, none of them have been willing to serve as a sponsor, nor to complete the requirements necessary to sponsor this event on the CMU campus, per our policy,” the email said. “We felt it was important to inform you given that the planned activity is not a university-approved event.”

Yara, an organizer for the walkout, said she was “infuriated” when she received CMU’s email.

“I did speak to someone from administration just last night who knew about this event and basically asked me, ‘Oh, who’s the organizers?’ I gave her a list of names and that was all she had to ask,” Yara, a junior business major at CMU, said. “If she told me before then that they needed an actual sponsor from our end or they wanted one organization to take responsibility, we would have given it to them, but they never asked for it, never once, and that’s why we got really frustrated when we saw that entire statement being put out.”

A crowd gathered to call for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza on CMU’s campus on Thursday afternoon. (Amaya Lobato Rivas | Assistant Visual Editor)

On Thursday morning, Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh released a statement addressing the walkout and providing tips for preserving Jewish students’ “physical safety and well-being.”

“We are deeply saddened to have actions like this taking place on Pittsburgh campuses and at other campuses across the country,” the statement said. “Hillel JUC is working with the universities as well as our security partners to ensure students’ safety.”

Yara said she saw the statement from Hillel JUC as “diminishing our cause.”

“We are not antisemitic. We do not condone any type of harassment towards Jewish people. As you could see during our event, we had people from [Jewish Voice for Peace] speak and that’s because we believe that this rally is for everyone,” Yara said. “There are Jewish Palestinians, there are Christian Palestinians, there are Muslim Palestinians — it’s never been about religion and that’s not what we are highlighting this cause as.”

Protesters at the rally calling for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza on CMU’s campus on Thursday afternoon. (Amaya Lobato Rivas | Assistant Visual Editor)

Judy Kanafani, a Palestinian student at Pitt, spoke at the rally. Kanafani marked her birthday at the rally and said she felt “guilty” for not being in Palestine.

“I have the privilege to talk to all of you guys and I have the privilege to speak out for Palestine and they don’t have that privilege over there,” Kanafani said. “As much as I like to complain about my birthday, I can’t complain about my birthday because I’m alive and well.”

Kanafani expressed sadness for the people in Palestine, but said she hopes for a brighter future.

“I think about all the children that died and their parents can’t celebrate their birthdays anymore. I think about the people that are alive and how they’re celebrating their birthdays alone,” Kanafani said. “I hope it gets better in the future, and I hope on my next birthday, we’re celebrating free Palestine.”

About the Contributor
Spencer Levering, Senior Staff Writer