Students stage sit-in to demand University action on Palestine

Oct. 23, 2023, 4:38 a.m.

Several Stanford students started a sit-in at White Plaza at noon on Friday — they hope to break a 2015 record for the longest sit-in at Stanford. Demonstrators called on the University divest from and boycott Israeli ventures and academic institutions, provide resources to Palestinian and Palestinian-American students and issue a statement that condemns Israeli war crimes and calls for a ceasefire.

They intend to remain in White Plaza until they receive a response from the University. 

“Israel’s leaders have made it clear they intend to do as much destruction to Gaza as possible,” said Aidan Delgass ’25. According to Delgass, who participated from Saturday afternoon to Sunday night, “the definition of genocide has been met.” UN experts warned the Palestinian people are “in grave danger of mass ethnic cleansing.”

Activists set up tents and tables on Friday as Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine led a protest. They prepared a place to sleep, eat and study over the next week. Since the sit-in started, the site has grown from a singular tent to an area filled with chairs, tables and around ten tents. 

Future Coalition founder Katie Eder ’24 told The Daily that the sit-in grew “very organically through word of mouth and students passing by and coming to sit.”

According to Eder, the increase in participation is “because people recognize the genocide that’s currently happening in Gaza and has been happening in Palestine for the last 75 years is such a clear injustice.”

No single student organization planned the sit-in, Eder said. 

“Everyone is here because they saw or heard about the sit-in and came and joined,” said the main organizer of the event, a co-term student who requested anonymity due to fears of doxxing and physical retaliation. The student said that he set up his own tent in White Plaza midday Friday. Within a few hours — following a Friday rally hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine — he was joined by around 15 people. 

Several participants who spoke to The Daily on Sunday said that they were from different backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities. 

“The standard narrative or expectation is that people who are here in support of Palestine would be either Muslim students, Arab students or students who have some affiliation with Palestine,” the organizer said. “Almost everyone here has no personal ties to Palestine.”

Abdu Mohamdy ’22 M.S. ’23 concurred.

Demonstrators called on the University to issue a statement that condemns events that Amnesty International referred to as Israeli war crimes, in similar language to a University condemnation of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians. Amnesty International documented evidence of “indiscriminate” attacks with mass civilian casualties and called for an independent investigation. 

Some demonstrators characterized the statement as “one-sided” and asked the University to call for a ceasefire.

The Daily has reached out to the University for comment.

They also called on Stanford to divest from “entities upholding Israeli apartheid and war crimes.” Some demonstrators, like the organizer, said “at least” an investigative committee would show the University’s re-evaluation of investments and “relationships with Israeli entities.”

Eder and the organizer said that they hope a sit-in rather than a single-day event will show the University and other students their dedication. 

Delgass said that they received a mix of reactions from the community, ranging from attempts to dissuade the group to encouragement.

Despite criticism, participants said that they are determined: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” the main organizer said. 

Eder said she believed that reporters, government officials and University administrators “are not doing their part to stop and address” humanitarian issues in Gaza. 

“As students, we feel limited in what we’re able to do. Something we can do is be visible in naming what’s happening and that this genocide is an injustice and needs to be addressed with urgency, boldness and courage,” Eder said. 

“We are committed to whatever we can to make it known on the Stanford campus that we will not be silenced in the face of injustice.”

An inaccurate name has been corrected in this article. The Daily regrets this error.

Dilan Gohill ’27 is the Vol. 265 student activism beat reporter and a news staff writer. He is from Santa Monica, CA and enjoys avocado toast and listening to Lorde. Contact him at dilan 'at'

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