From the Community | Alumni commend Stanford’s historic sit-in to stop genocide

Feb. 1, 2024, 4:00 a.m.

As a diverse group of Stanford alumni, many of us have been involved with the Palestine solidarity movement long enough to remember when it was an embattled, minority position. We are heartened to see the tradition of resisting injustice at Stanford continue during a time when Israel’s enterprise of occupation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid has never been more brazen. 

Many of us have continued the advocacy that began on campus when we were students. Whether it was Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel (SCAI), Coalition for Justice in the Middle East (CJME), Stanford University Students for UNICEF (SUSU) or Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP), Stanford is a place where alumni who have become international leaders first developed and solidified their social justice advocacy. Conversations with peers in the classroom, around our dorms and across shared meals transformed us and shaped our ethical frameworks. Our opinions changed, our perspective broadened and our empathy deepened precisely because of the kinds of conversations that are taking place every day at the sit-in. 

We, the undersigned, are bound together by an understanding that the historic injustices of the 20th and 21st centuries were often dismantled because college students throughout the world chose to stand against them. We recognize that the Stanford Sit-In to Stop Genocide strengthens the tide of history, which is turning against Israel’s cruel and inhumane systems of oppression. Past protests of this nature, such as Stanford Out of South Africa (1985) and the Hunger Strike for Low Wage Workers (1994), have been pivotal in shaping Stanford into a more just institution, and the present sit-in furthers that legacy.

We lend our voices and support to the students in White Plaza who are playing a vital role in refusing to allow the public to look away as genocide takes place with the tacit complicity of Stanford’s endowment. Many alumni in this collective, some of whom are parents or siblings of participating students, have visited the sit-in, met with administrators to ensure the protestors’ safety, battled misinformation campaigns targeted toward participating students and insisted on the continued protection of free speech and the right to protest. 

Like many current Stanford students, we as alumni have been tremendously affected by the genocide in Gaza, as well as the ongoing raids, extrajudicial murders and kidnappings in the occupied West Bank. Most tragically, Dr. Rajaie Batniji ’03 M.A. ’03, a former class president, has had over 60 members of his family — men, women and children — murdered by the Israeli military in Gaza over the past three months. Dr. Sammy Abusrur’s ’09 first cousin, Anas Abusrour — the director of a youth center in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp — was abducted by the Israeli military as he returned home to his newborn child and wife. In early December, he was sentenced to six months of “administrative detention,” an apartheid-style policy that allows the Israeli government to jail Palestinians without due process.

Other Stanford alumni have been at the forefront of human rights advocacy for Palestine. Omar Shakir ’07 J.D. ’13 has served as the Israel and Palestine Director for Human Rights Watch for the past seven years, despite being deported by the Israeli government in 2019. Dr. Tanya Haj-Hassan ’06 is a pediatrician member of Doctors Without Borders and has volunteered in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Fadi Quran ’10 is the campaigns director for the global campaigning organization Avaaz. He is a Palestinian community organizer and youth leader who has been arrested multiple times for his human rights work. Shakir, Haj-Hassan and Quran have been interviewed by and/or written for numerous media outlets (CNN, ABC, Time Magazine and Al Jazeera) over the past few months, advocating for the rights of those affected by this unprecedented, ongoing tragedy. Meanwhile, many other alumni, faculty and staff at Stanford have eschewed the public eye and worked behind the scenes instead. Those who make this decision do so out of fear of negative repercussions to them, their families and their careers, a fear we have seen echoed in the dismissals of countless workers across all segments of society for publicly voicing their support of Palestine.   

This is why it is so essential we support the students involved in the Sit-in to Stop Genocide. We see our younger selves in these students occupying White Plaza, and we hope that this letter, in situating their efforts within a long legacy of activism, fortifies their spirits. 

Deep fissures are opening underneath the edifice of the U.S.-backed Zionist project that has displaced and oppressed the Palestinian people for more than 75 years. The weight of the Palestinian people’s demands — a permanent ceasefire and lifting of the siege on Gaza; the internationally recognized right of return for refugees ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948, 1967 and thereafter; an end to apartheid against Palestinian citizens of Israel and an end to military occupation, annexation and illegal settlement building — becomes heavier and more urgent by the day. It is within this broader historical context that the International Court of Justice recently ruled — by a 15-to-2 vote — that the Israeli government must “take all measures within its power” to prevent and refrain from acts in violation of the Genocide Convention, and to desist from further killing Palestinian civilians.

The stakes for Palestine and the Palestinian people have never been higher. As Stanford alumni, our moral commitments require us to use our position to advocate not just for peace, but for justice. For these reasons and many more, Stanford students are sitting in. With their presence, they remind everyone on campus of the daily atrocities occurring in Gaza. Their movement inspires those of us who have since left campus to remain hopeful for the future. So, we thank the students for their tireless efforts. Furthermore, we extend our gratitude to the University and its administrators, who have chosen to protect the sit-in and safeguard the students’ free-speech rights. We urge them to continue this policy, and we welcome the university’s decision to establish a task force that will address the anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate on campus, which significantly increased after Oct. 7.

These students started their sit-in on Oct. 20, 2023, and have continued it throughout the winter break and into the new year, despite harassment, threats and inclement weather. In doing so, they have accomplished something historic: at 104 days and counting, it is the longest such action to date at Stanford. They have compelled the Stanford community to reckon with both our complicity in this genocide and our communal responsibility to act. As their efforts continue and evolve, we as alumni stand beside them and offer our endless solidarity.

This opinion was authored by a group of Stanford alumni supporting the sit-in efforts. While the initial draft was developed by a few authors, they circulated it among private networks to gather editorial feedback and support.

Maarya Abbasi ’16 M.A. ’17
Ziyad Abdelkhaleq ’11 M.S. ’12
Salahodeen Abdul-Kafi ’12
Olamide Abiose J.D. Ph.D. ’23
Sarah Abushaar ’23
Sammy Abusrur ’09
Firas Abuzaid ’13 M.S. ’15 Ph.D. ’22
Samra Adeni ’14
Zaid Adhami ’10 M.A. ’10
Neida Ahmad M.A. ’22
Mohammad Al-Moumen ’09 MBA ’14
Sanna Ali ’12 M.A. ’21 Ph.D. ’23
Ammar Alqatari ’19 M.S. ’22
Omar Amir M.D. ’12
Dian Andamari Rosanti ’09
Mea Anderson ’21
Diana Austria Rivera ’08
Ramah Awad ’17
Rajaie Batniji ’03 M.A. ’03
Kate Benham-Suk ’09
Lena Bississo M.S. ’03
Nicole Bonsol ’05 M.A. ’06
Lauren Border ’19
Devyn Brown ’09 M.A. ’10
Maya Nell Murungi Burke ’18
Jordan C. Peralta ’04
Kit Carmona ’13
James Carroll ’19
Eutiquio “Tiq” Chapa ’10
Lavanya Chekuru ’03
Geena Chen ’16
Janet Chen ’19
Calvin Cheung-Miaw ’03 Ph.D. ’21
Caroline Cohn J.D. ’19
Niza Contreras ’20
Stephanie Cruz ’08
Natasha Dar M.A. ’13
William David Rogers ’09
Joyce Dela Pena ’10
Anita F. Desai J.D. ’22
Joshua Dunn ’11
Neville Eclov ’09
Sierra Edwards ’23
Hamza El Boudali ’22 M.S. ’24
Amin El Gamal ’08
Abrahim El Gamal ’09 M.S. ’11
Omar El-Sadany MBA ’22
Rasha Elsayed ’13
Jonathan Engel ’17
Kelly Engel Wells ’05
Hassan Fahmy ’21 M.S. ’23
Ibraheem Fakira ’12
Willi Farrales ’08
Erica Fernandez Zamora ’12 M.A. ’13
Dominique B. Figueroa ’09
Mason Flink ’10
Shawna Follis postdoctorate ’23
Cindy Garcia Ward J.D. ’16
Amanda Gelender ’10
Najla Gomez ’14
Diana Gonzalez ’13 M.A. ’19
Aaron Grayson ’11
Laura Groenendaal ’14
Kerry Guerin J.D. ’23
Hialy Gutierrez ’07
Olivia Haas ’11
Rachel Habbert M.S. ’10
Tyler Haddow ’14
Tanya Haj-Hassan ’06
Sheena Hale ’07
Grant Hallee ’19 M.A. ’20
Rachel Hamburg ’10 M.A. ’11
Bilal Hamra El Badaoui M.S. ’10
Audrey Hannah ’04
Olivia Harewood ’09
Collette Harris M.D. M.S. ’09
Emma Hartung ’17
Nabeel Hasnain ’07 M.S. ’07
Fatima Hassan Ali ’09
Emily Hawley J.D. ’20
Bradley Heinz ’08
Mabrookah Heneidi ’05
Jay-Marie Hill ’10
Kuusela Hilo ’03
Daniel Hirsch ’09
Teresa Hofer ’08
Rebecca Hsu ’10
Nicholas Huang M.S. ’18
Adam Hudson ’10
Mariana Huerta ’07
Jack Hunt ’09
Tenah Hunt ’09
James Huynh ’15
Corina Iacopetti ’09
Nabill Idrisi ’09
Anna Maria Irion ’14
Osman Jamil Ph.D. ’22
Neli Jasuja ’14
Starr Jiang ’20
Ronak K Kapadia ’05
Jotthe Kannappan ’16
Farhan Kathawala ’13
Hind Katkhuda M.S. ’13
Ahlia Kattan ’09 M.D. ’13
Megan Koilparampil J.D. ’23
Paige Kumm ’09 M.A. ’10
Fatima Ladha ’17
David Lai ’08
Iris A. Law ’08
Vinney Lê ’11
Cody Leff ’15
C. Genai Lewis ’17
A.D. Lewis ’21
Owen Li ’03
Maryam Liaqat ’09
Jacqueline Lin ’17
Lisa Ndecky Llanos ’09
Skye Lovett ’18
Steve Lovett MFA ’72
Jacob Maddox J.D. ’23
Mario Madrigal ’09 MBA ’13
Dewan Majid ’07
Eric Manolito ’04
Ari Marcus ’18
Imran Maskatia ’97 M.S. ’98
Ashley McCullough Tough ’09
Claudia McKenzie ’18
Jessica McNally ’10 M.S. ’10
Haleema Mehmood Ph.D. ’15
Tina Miller ’14
Irteza Mohyuddin ’13
Mohit Mookim ’18 J.D. ’23
Melissa Morales ’09
Raya Musallam MBA ’19
Khaled Naim MBA ’13
Diana Nassar MBA ’20
Mehran Nazir M.S. ’11
Julia Neusner ’20
Seth Newton Patel ’01
Minh Nguyen ’20 M.S. ’22
Andrew Ntim ’22
Akua Nyarko-Odoom ’18
Kofi Ohene-Adu ’09
John Okhiulu ’21
Tracy Ngozi Okoroike ’09
Bijan Osmani ’09
Zeyne Oulmakki ’17
Swayam Parida ’21 M.S. ’23
Sanah Parvez ’08
Natasha Patel ’16
Siddharth Patel M.A. ’18 Ph.D ’19
Cuauhtemoc Peranda ’10
Jace Perry ’19
Jess Peterson ’13 M.S. ’15
Kristen Powers ’16
Amanda Prasuhn J.D. ’15
Fadi Quran ’10
Michaela Raikes ’10 M.A. ’11
Saraswati Rathod J.D. ’23
Mary Reagan ’18
Bronwyn Reed ’12
Elizabeth Reetz J.D. ’20
Jasmine Reid Ph.D. ’22
Rebecca Richardson ’11
Mia Ritter-Whittle ’19
Takeo Rivera ’08 M.A. ’09
Spencer Robinson ’20
Rebecca Roediger ’04
Lolita Roibal ’03
Mae Ryan ’09
Sammie Sachs ’09 M.A. ’10
Serena Saffarini J.D. ’20
Sarah Salameh ’16
Jessica Salinas ’11
Josh Schott ’14
Jessie Schrantz ’17
Jamie Senéy ’21
William Sherman ’09 Ph.D. ’17
Charlotte Silver ’09
Spencer Slovic ’18
Measha Ferguson Smith ’17
Max Sosna-Spear ’11 M.A. ’12
Rebecca Stellato ’10
Mohammad Subeh ’06 M.A. ’06 M.S. ’08
Frederick Tan ’18 M.S. ’22
Harya Tarekegn ’09
Luke Taylor ’10
Kenneth Tea ’17
Yvette Tetteh ’14
Mitali Thakor ’09
Lilian Thaoxaochay ’10
Manny Thompson ’15
Kat Townsend ’07
Eric Tran ’10
Co Tran ’17
Sarah Tran ’20
Kim Truong ’10
T. Mugabo Uwilingiyimana ’09
Sara Valderrama ’19
Adrien Wagner ’11
Emma Walker-Silverman ’17
Emily Wilder ’20
Disney Williams ’12
Sammie Ablaza Wills ’16
S. Wilson ’06
Alexa Wnorowski M.S. ’17 M.A. ’21 Ph.D ’21
Ma’ili Yee ’20 M.A. ’21
Rachel Yong ’08 M.A. ’09
Jamayka Young ’21
Tesay Yusuf ’18

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