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

Twenty students from St. Mary's College in Moraga occupied a chapel and eight students went on a hunger strike on Wednesday evening to induce the university to reveal all of its financial investments and divest from all firms that support Israel's war in Gaza.

Students remained Thursday within the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin, near the doorway to campus. They also called on the varsity to not cancel a vigil for Palestinian children killed in Gaza since October 7 on the St. John the Baptist De La Salle statue on campus.

Kylie Gutierrez, co-organizer of the campus chapter Students for Justice in Palestine and a fourth-year digital media major, said they, together with seven other students, decided to take part in the hunger strike since it appeared like the university not I don't take their demands seriously.

“I wanted to bring attention to the genocide in Palestine,” Gutierrez said. “I didn’t want to be involved in any way. If this changes the university’s complicity, I will do everything in my power to change that.”

Gutierrez said the scholars selected to occupy the chapel on Wednesday since it was the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, which recognizes when Palestinians were permanently faraway from their homeland throughout the 1948 war that led to the creation of the fashionable nation of Israel country were expelled. They also said students were “very sad” that the varsity had not responded to their demands at the tip of the semester.

“What is happening in Gaza is absolutely unacceptable and our school, as an institution rooted in the Lasallian tradition, must agree 100% with our demands,” said first-year student Isa Muniz Simunovic, “namely, themselves “To separate from it “all organizations involved in the genocide of Palestinians.”

The group has been organizing for this cause for about two months, Gutierrez said. Their actions last week included a one-day occupation of the identical chapel, in addition to conducting study sessions and putting up posters every evening.

Students from Students for Justice and Palestine and the Middle Eastern North African student organization tried to talk to the university's president for about 4 months without receiving a response, Gutierrez said. In an email to students on Wednesday shared with the Bay Area News Group, the university president acknowledged that students were demanding the university recognize “the conflict in Gaza” and said they hoped “a number of… of problems” in their next four-year plan for the university, Transformation 2028.

St. Mary's College officials did not immediately respond to a Bay Area News Group request for comment Thursday afternoon.

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