Over 150 Warwick students march on campus in protest with Warwick Stands With Palestine

‘The university should drop its ties with a regime that commits genocide’

Over a hundred students attended a pro-Palestine protest on Wednesday 25th October, organised by a student solidarity group called Warwick Stands With Palestine (WSWP).

Beginning at 12pm, the group marched from The Piazza, through library road, paused outside the library and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) building and continued to Senate House where the protest ended. Throughout the protest, students and staff made speeches, recited poetry and chanted in support of Palestine.

Chants included “Free Palestine”, “Resistance is justified when people are occupied” and “Hey, ho the occupation has got to go.”

Pausing outside the WMG building, members of the WSWP made speeches directed to the University of Warwick.

One speaker said: “It’s not simply by chance that we’re stopped here outside WMG and outside the School of Engineering. It is because between these doors here and across campus that imperialism and colonisation is made both materially and theoretically possible”.

Speaking on the reason the WSWP had a banner that read “Decolonisation is not a metaphor”, the WSWP speaker said in their speech that it was meant “to point out Warwick’s own contradiction.”

“How can this campus be so materially invested in the maintenance of British imperialism and yet so frequently use the language of decolonisation to describe this organisation.”

The Warwick Tab spoke to Alex Hill from the Warwick Marxist Society and Socialist Appeal, who was present at the protest and shed some light on the newly formed student solidarity group the WSWP: “The main reason it needed to be anonymous was because a lot of societies across the country have been facing repression and difficulties just exercising their freedom speech.”

“When it was organised there were some preliminary conversations and when we initially did the poster everyone was going to put their societies on it but it was decided that we weren’t going to do that to avoid anyone being pigeonholed and maybe taken down through SU pressure.”

They mentioned that this comes after London student societies like UCL Marxist Society and SOAS Palestine Society were criticised for their events and statements made online.

Speaking on the speech given outside WMG and their thoughts on what should be done, Alex said: “Motions have been passed before by the Student Union condemning this activity and calling for Warwick to drop all ties and the university has resisted different pressure groups and democratic movement by the students.”

“Basically the demand would be the university should drop its ties with a regime that commits genocide. I don’t think that would be a controversial statement.”

The Warwick Tab reached out to the WSWP for comment following the demonstration. Warwick Stands With Palestine said in their statement: “Today we demonstrated that the Palestinian liberation movement is a cause close to the hearts of so many students and staff. We forged an intersectional and accessible space for us to grieve in solidarity, listening to speeches, poetry and prose from every part of our community.”

“As a genocide and humanitarian crisis unfolds in Gaza, we will continue this campaign of solidarity at Warwick with the Palestinian people.”

In their statement, WSWP detailed a list of demands from the University of Warwick:

“1. That Warwick University clearly condemns Israeli war crimes in Gaza, calls for ceasefire and a just peace that realises the full rights of the Palestinian people under international law. 2. Warwick University to pledge to disinvite all companies complicit in Israeli apartheid and colonial occupation from future careers fairs and employer events. 3. Given the intense level of national repression, Warwick University pledges to uphold the freedom of speech for Palestinian staff and students, their advocates, and expressions of solidarity.”

Alex said at Wednesday’s demonstrations: “There’s been five demonstrations in Coventry city centre and this was the first one here and hopefully as this situation develops, which it will, this is not going to end soon, then there will be more demonstrations on campus with bigger crowds and maybe more organised demands against the university. The kind of great things about these movements is they can springboard into bigger ones especially considering this started out as a small conversation maybe a week and a half ago.”

The Warwick Tab reached out to the University of Warwick for comment and received this statement: “A student event was held last Wednesday 25th October on campus. Our students were able to voice their opinions. Whilst we recognise that freedom of speech is a vital component of university life, we will continue to urge our students to respect the views of others even when they are different to their own. Respect, kindness and empathy to each other cannot be undervalued, particularly during this deeply distressing time.”

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