St. Mary’s College students occupy campus chapel in support of Palestinians; 8 join hunger strike

Twenty students from St. Mary’s College in Moraga occupied a chapel and eight students began a hunger strike on Wednesday night to push the university to disclose all of its financial investments and divest from any corporations supporting Israel’s war in Gaza.

The students remained in the Chapel of the Most Blessed Virgin, near the entrance to campus, on Thursday. They also called on the school to not remove a vigil dedicated to Palestinian children killed in Gaza since Oct. 7 at the St. John the Baptist De La Salle statue on the campus.

Kylie Gutierrez, a co-organizer with the campus’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and fourth-year digital media student, said that they had chosen to participate in the hunger strike along with seven other students are because it seemed like the university wasn’t taking their demands seriously.

“I wanted to call attention to the genocide that’s happening in Palestine,” said Gutierrez. “I didn’t want to be complicit in it in any sense of the word. If it changes how the university is complicit in it, then I’ll do anything in my power to change it.”

Gutierrez said the students chose to occupy the chapel on Wednesday as it was the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, which recognizes when Palestinians were permanently displaced from their lands during the 1948 war that led to the establishment of the modern nation of Israel. They also said the students “felt very saddened” by the school’s lack of response to their demands as the semester came to a close.

“What’s going on in Gaza is absolutely unacceptable and our school as an institution rooted in the Lasallian tradition needs to be 100% on board with what we’re demanding,” said first-year student Isa Muniz Simunovic, “which is to divest from any organizations that are involved in genocide of Palestinians.”

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Through Thursday afternoon, the demonstration remained peaceful and the students allowed non-participants to enter the chapel to exercise their religious rights. Gutierrez said that some people have had issues with the occupation and have gone in trying to take down their decorations.

The group has been organizing around this cause for about two months, Gutierrez said. Their actions included a one-day occupation …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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