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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Students at A&M gather for pro-Palestine protest, calling for university divestment

Aggie+students+gather+to+protest+university+funding+of+Israeli+weapons+manufacturing+in+Academic+Plaza+on+Monday%2C+April+29%2C+2024.
Photo by Ani Tummalapalli
Aggie students gather to protest university funding of Israeli weapons manufacturing in Academic Plaza on Monday, April 29, 2024.

Hundreds of Texas A&M students protested the Israel-Hamas war and assembled in Academic Plaza, demanding A&M divest funds and denounce supporting organizations benefitting from Israeli occupation.

Planned from 12-8 p.m. on April 29, the protest was organized by Aggies Against Apartheid. The coalition was recently formed and alerted the university administration over a week in advance to ensure compliance, according to event organizer computer engineering junior Akkad Ajam. Within hours of the demonstration beginning, Ajam said about 150 students joined, and near the end, the group had more than doubled. 

Protest organizers declined to interview with local media but distributed written statements before the beginning. Aggies Against Apartheid called for A&M divestment from AXA EUR, Chevron Texaco Corp, Caterpillar Inc, HP Inc, Siemens AG, and more, sharing more information via its Instagram.

The A&M campus protest is among many college campus protests nationwide calling for divestment. Organizers voiced support for those recently arrested while protesting at the University of Texas on April 24, which resulted in 57 arrests and more from subsequent protests. 

“We affirm our solidarity and steadfast support to the people of Gaza and to our brothers and sisters at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as to each and every student being silenced by institutional power across the nation,” the statement from Aggies Against Apartheid read.

At 1:07 p.m., protestors began chanting as they marched for a silent protest. The group looped around Evan’s library before returning to the Academic Plaza.

Demonstrators march past the Academic Building to protest university funding of companies that benefit from Israeli occupation on Monday, April 29, 2024. (Ani Tummalapalli/The Battalion) (Photo by Ani Tummalapalli)

After their return to the plaza, multiple witnesses said the demonstration was peaceful yet effective. Administration on site confirmed coalition leadership had worked with A&M to ensure the protest did not violently escalate. 

Multiple high-ranking administrators observed the demonstration during the afternoon, such as A&M President Mark Welsh and Vice President of Student Affairs Joe E. Ramirez. In the morning, Ramirez sent a campus-wide email urging students to demonstrate Aggie values while voicing their opinions.

“Since last fall, I’ve watched as our students exercised their right to voice concerns through peaceful expressive activities on campus, and did so consistently exemplifying integrity, respect and all the other values held dear by Texas Aggies,” Ramirez’s email read. “… While we acknowledge the gravity of recent global events, we continue to urge all members of our Aggie community to continue to engage in constructive dialogue while upholding Texas A&M’s values of respect, leadership and integrity during this challenging period.”

From 2 p.m., the group intermittently hosted lessons through the afternoon to educate protestors and concluded before 7 p.m. Lessons included the “history of the colonization of Palestine,” “Israeli apartheid and war crimes” and “US-Israeli relations.”

The group marched a final lap around Evans Library and Military Walk shortly after 7:15 p.m. Organizers led chants as protesters followed with pro-Palestinian signage.

Following the final march, Ajam said organizers were proud of the amount of positive communication and discussions as a result of the protest.

“I think it really shows how not only we have a love of life and a love of humanity, but a love for each other as Aggies as people that care, have humanitarian or moral and ethical obligations to speak on this and fight back against this,” Ajam said.

Ajam said A&M has been very compliant as the protesters pushed to demonstrate their 1st Amendment rights. 

“We are vocal about it, and they’re advocating for our freedom of speech,” Ajam said. “We’re gonna continue advocating for the freedom of speech as far as we’re willing to take it.”

Demonstrators march past Evans Library during a protest against the university funding of organizations that support the war in Gaza on Monday, April 29, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion) (Photo by Chris Swann)

On Monday evening, Kelly Brown, associate vice president of A&M Marketing and Communications, released a statement on behalf of the university.

“As a public institution of higher learning, Texas A&M is committed to creating an environment conducive to the free exchange of ideas and opinions,” the statement reads. “Texas A&M’s rules on expressive activity — including protests and demonstrations — outline how the university will protect the rights of freedom of speech, expression, petition and peaceful assembly as set forth in the U.S. Constitution and Texas state law.”

Brown said groups organizing expressive activities must apply and reserve a space for its event, and A&M cannot tolerate events that disrupt normal operations, such as classes.

“We provide various locations for expression, including Academic Plaza, which is where Monday’s protest was held,” Brown wrote. “… Fortunately, the five demonstrations since October have all been peaceful and without incident.”

The event concluded after 8 p.m. when organizers led a group prayer and vigil.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on the evening of April 29 to include further developments and coverage from the event.

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About the Contributor
Ana Renfroe
Ana Renfroe, Head News Editor
Ana Renfroe, Class of 2025, is a journalism junior with a minor in professional writing from Bryan, Texas. Ana has served as The Battalion's head news editor from May 2023 to May 2024. Previously, she was the assistant news editor for the spring 2023 semester. Ana has covered breaking news, politics, and more. She typically covered the Texas A&M System and university administration, Texas and Bryan-College Station politics, student government and more. Ana previously hosted and produced episodes of The Batt Signal, The Battalion's news podcast. Additionally, she was a copyeditor and feature writer for Maroon Life magazine, and helped contribute to the Aggieland Yearbook.
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Comments (15)

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  • B

    BonMay 7, 2024 at 12:59 pm

    All of these college students protesting need to be taught the TRUE history of the Jewish people and their land, Israel, not just read Wikipedia!!! Have they not seen through history what has happened to the Jewish people and WHY they are having to do this?!? This sickens my soul that these ignorant college students, standing in solidarity, with other “brothers and sister” are promoting anti-semitism and standing with protesters for a people that have not only said death to Israel but death to America. The Palestinian people were CHEERING Hamas on October 7th, 2023!!! They were cheering the brutal murders of innocent women, children, Holocaust survivors, grandparents and civilians!!! What about those “poor” Palestinian people that cheered that?? Disgusting!!! I would pull my child so fast from this school and protest for the true history of the land of Israel to be shown!!

    Reply
  • S

    Sam MyersMay 3, 2024 at 8:46 am

    The only genocide in the most recent chapter of this saga occurred on 7 October 2023 and now Israel is eliminating the imminent threat that remains in Gaza. Israel, as opposed to the terrorist organization HAMAS, tries to avoid civilian casualties but war, as the saying goes, is hell.
    EVERY SINGLE DEATH from 7 October to today is the fault of HAMAS.
    The conditions the Gazans live in are the result of HAMAS’ (lack of responsible) governance.
    Why do the surrounding Islamic countries refuse to take in Palestinian refugees? Why does Egypt have a fortified wall along its border with Gaza? Answer these questions and you’ll begin to understand what the Israelis are dealing with.
    Why do these protestors wear masks? Are they not proud of the position they’re taking?

    Reply
  • T

    TKMay 3, 2024 at 7:09 am

    First, I’d like to know if their protest contained 100% student Aggies? I believe they might have been “joined” by outside actors to “double” their numbers, similar to other campuses. Which loud and proud Texas A&M college student made those misspelled signs? They are so eager to support a terrorist organization that wants to kill all the Jews? Witness the Nazi Youth on the Texas A&M campus, wearing masks to hide their faces like the paid people of Antifa. At least the numbers were low, +/- 300 based on the article, compared to the 72K enrolled students. I’m glad it hasn’t turned violent, yet.

    Reply
  • S

    SeanMay 2, 2024 at 7:38 pm

    Incredibly proud of our university for creating a space for free expression of all ideas. Praying for a peaceful outcome and a liberated Palestine.

    Gig’em. Fight’n Texas Aggie Class of ’14.

    Reply
    • L

      LMay 4, 2024 at 1:30 am

      You are an uneducated person. There is no Palestine and the people are violent terrorists. There is a reason why no other Muslim country will take them in. Please look why.

      Reply
  • M

    MMay 1, 2024 at 3:42 pm

    It is unfortunate that the reference to Israel Apartheid which is unsupported by any actual facts is portrayed as if it were fact in this article. Responsible journalism includes mention that 2 million Palestinians living in Israel have equal rights, vote and preside in positions of power such as the judiciary.

    Reply
  • W

    WildmanMay 1, 2024 at 2:34 pm

    Deploy the Corps! Death to HAMAS

    Reply
  • C

    Common citizenMay 1, 2024 at 9:51 am

    So why do so many of these protestors wear face masks ?

    Reply
  • J

    James Wayt ‘84Apr 30, 2024 at 10:21 pm

    We stand with Israel. Israel has a right to defend itself and the land of Israel was from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean Sea over 3000 years ago. I respect your right to protest but there is another side of the story.

    Reply
  • S

    Stephen L. Baker '72Apr 30, 2024 at 4:58 pm

    Regardless about how you feel about the views of another person, this is the way that demonstrations and exercise of freedom of speech should be conducted. Peaceful protest while showing respect for the views and rights of others is as American as apple pie…with Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream on top.

    Reply
  • R

    Robert Wayne nivensApr 30, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    It’s hard for me to believe that this protest made it’s way to my alma mater. I only hope that it remains peaceful. Yelling death to America while they live in this country is absurd. Go home if you don’t believe in this country’s values, please.

    Reply
  • R

    Ron Smothermon, MDApr 30, 2024 at 9:29 am

    I strongly disagree. Where are the down arrows? Nowhere! Typical progressivism. Hitler Youths at my Alma mater. How embarrassing.

    Reply
  • G

    Greg SchwartzApr 29, 2024 at 11:42 pm

    There is no genocide being committed by Israel. The only genocide is what Hamas wants to do to Israel, all the Jews, and west. It’s in their charter. Protest Hamas and demand a release of the hostages.

    Reply
  • M

    MJApr 29, 2024 at 8:08 pm

    But they’re ok with TAMU’s connection with Qatar I guess

    Reply
  • J

    John HorningApr 29, 2024 at 6:42 pm

    The organization should change their name to Aggies Who Don’t Spell So Good – or Aggies Who Should Spend More Time in Class.

    Reply