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UNH Students and Faculty Walkout in Solidarity with Student Protestors and Palestine

Following the events of May 1, members of the UNH community rallied together to express their demands of the university
Kaylin Moriarty
Following the events of May 1, UNH students and faculty members gathered on T-Hall lawn to stand in solidarity with student protesters and Palestine.

On May 6 at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), students and faculty members participated in a walkout on Thompson Hall (T-Hall) lawn in solidarity with student protestors and Palestine following the events of May 1.

UNH’s Palestine Solidarity Coalition (PSC) organized the walkout to demand UNH drop the charges against the 12 people arrested after an encampment began on T-Hall lawn last Wednesday. PSC also called for the resignation of President James Dean, Senior Vice Provost Kenneth Holmes and UNH Police Department Chief Paul Dean and demanded the university divest from “all weapon manufacturers and companies contributing to the genocide, apartheid and occupation in Palestine,” as stated in an Instagram post from PSC.

Around 100 people gathered in front of T-Hall holding signs, some reading “There are no universities left in Gaza,” and “Children don’t equal collateral.” Standing in the front of the crowd holding a sign that read “Cease Fire Now” was David “Ezra” Brown, a second-year nursing and women and gender studies student.

“Genocide of people is pretty rough,” said Brown when asked why he participated in the walkout. “I am a Jewish student here on campus and seeing as yesterday was Yom HaShoah, which is the mourning of all the people killed in the Holocaust, bringing me out. I’ve been to every single one of these and you can’t just stand idly by when people are getting killed.”

Brown noted the demand for the university to divest as another reason he attended the walkout.

“Knowing that my money that I spend going to this campus, getting an education, is funding the killing of children and people who are just trying to overthrow their oppressors, it makes me ashamed to be here,” said Brown.

Palestinian flags waved behind the stone wall in front of T-Hall, as students, faculty and community members addressed the crowd. As each person stepped up to the megaphone, echoes of “free Palestine” and similar chants followed.

“I’m here because I’m a patriotic American, my grandfathers fought in Europe, I’m here because I’m a Jew, I’m here because I’m a mother. I’m here because we need to be here for each other, and everybody’s kids,” said Jessica Bolker, UNH biological science professor, through a megaphone. “I’m here because I have incredibly courageous students who are here and have spoken before me, and as far as I can tell, that is what this country is for.”

Bolker emphasized her students’ bravery when speaking with The New Hampshire.

“What you hope as a faculty member, is that your students think, and learn, and have courage, and take what they learn into the world and do real things with it. Not just write papers and pass tests. This is real,” said Bolker.

Some faculty members felt called to speak, while others chose to show their support by being present.

“I just think any time our students are putting themselves out there, especially after the way they were treated last week, it is important for faculty to stand in solidarity,” said Robert Eckstin, a faculty member in the justice studies and psychology departments. “Even if we keep quiet and just kind of sit in the back like I’m doing I think it’s important for students to see us and show that we care.”

Many students took to the megaphone to get their voices heard and share their own experiences.

“I am a Syrian-American, and I am a veteran of the U.S. military as well. I had the pleasure of serving as a platoon corpsman with the marine corpsman infantry,” stated one student who addressed the crowd. “My whole life I was gaslighted by people to question my identity and who I am, both as an Arab American and a proud American. I just wanted to tell you guys, today, what it means to be American, [it] is what you make it.”

Students and faculty members stood in front of T-Hall equipped with signs as they listened to fellow UNH community members speak. (Kaylin Moriarty)

As his words faded into the crowd’s cheering, The Marine’s Hymn began to play from a student trumpeter, who had been echoing the words of protestors in support.

As another student approached the megaphone, they used their time to question UNH’s ranking from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and College Pulse as third in the nation for college free speech in 2023.

“Where is that free speech now?” asked the student who remained anonymous when speaking through the megaphone. “We don’t deserve to wear this badge on our official website and on our social media when our own students are being arrested for practicing the very free speech that we are supposed to be preaching.”

Following this, a student who was arrested during the events of May 1 took to the megaphone to speak out.

“Like so many other Jews across America on campuses, I am not here despite my Jewish identity; I am here because of it,” said the undergraduate student who did not disclose their identity when addressing the crowd. “Last week I was arrested for practicing my Jewish values of standing with the oppressed and not letting anything like the Holocaust happen again. When true anti-Semitism happens on this campus, like it has several times a semester, I have found support in the amazing people in the Palestine Solidarity Coalition and not much from the university.”

Sam Farrington, a UNH student, was holding an American flag outside of Thompson Hall in response to the demonstration and encampment on May 1 and at the walkout on May 6.

UNH student, Sam Farrington, stands amongst protestors waving the American flag in response to the walkout on May 6 and the demonstrations and encampment on May 1. (Kaylin Moriarty)

“I’m here to support America, proud to be American,” Farrington said at the walkout. “We’re here because somebody needs to step up. And there’s so many pro-American kids on campus, so many conservatives that feel silenced, whether it be because of their peers, or maybe professors, but most people are just tired of this and they need some leadership.”

Hollie Noveletsky, candidate for the U.S. House New Hampshire District 1, was present at the event and stood alongside counter-protestors. Noveletsky declined to comment.

Chris Balch is a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, having served from 2018 to 2020, and was also present at the walkout. While Balch graduated from the University of Vermont, he spent two years at UNH before transferring. Balch spoke to The New Hampshire about his support for the students and faculty members who took part in the walkout.

“It’s really tough to see what’s going on today. I am really happy to be a part of this group; I find it incredibly renewing and refreshing that young people are standing up and speaking out. That’s what we did back then, so it’s nice to see it being carried on,” said Balch.

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Kaylin Moriarty
Kaylin Moriarty, Editor
Alexander Rapp
Alexander Rapp, Digital Editor

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