The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Pro-Palestine students present open letter to UI President Barbara Wilson, walk out of classes

The nationwide movement demanded higher education institutions recognize the 10,000 Palestinians killed in the Israel-Hamas war.
Ava Neumaier
Yahir Jimenez leads student protestors in a chant outside of the President’s Residence during a demonstration to demand more support for Palestinian students and anti-apartheid causes, and for University administrators to be held accountable for providing resources to Israel. The demonstration began outside of Jessup Hall and ended at the President’s Residence on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2033.

Students chanted “Barbara, Barbara, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” among other phrases at a pro-Palestine protest on the University of Iowa campus Thursday. The group of over 50 students made its way to UI President Barbara Wilson’s office to demand UI President Barbara Wilson condemn anti-Palestinian rhetoric.

The protest was held outside of Wilson’s office, located at 101 Jessup Hall, and was part of a nationwide walkout that involved Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Coe College, and Grinnell College. Students called for a ceasefire after over 10,000 deaths in Gaza were reported since Oct. 7.

Yahir Jimenez, a UI first-year student, led chants and spoke to the crowd outside of Wilson’s office.

“As students, we bear the responsibility to speak the truth and have to get the truth we see right before our eyes,” he said.

Jimenez said Wilson’s silence makes her administration complicit in the injustice. He said it’s as though Wilson is “spitting in the faces of the humble few Palestinian students” on campus. State Board of Regents President Michael Richards released a statement Nov. 1 that the regents support the people and the State of Israel.

“We condemn all acts of terrorism,” he said in the statement.

Students across the U.S. have become united in the Free Palestine cause, Jimenez added, which has led to solidarity that extends beyond the borders of college campuses.

Jimenez led the students in chants like “Free free Palestine, free free Gaza,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The latter controversial phrase has a complicated history and has different meanings for Palestinians and Israelis. Many Palestinians use the phrase as a desire for an independent state, the New York Times reports, whereas Israelis see it as an antisemitic phrase that calls for the removal of Jewish people from their homeland of Israel.

After the crowd concluded the chants, an open letter was later presented to Wilson’s office.

“Many of the university departments claim to be committed to research, learning, and understanding,” the letter read. “In the face of a genocide … silence.”

The letter claims the UI was complicit in collaborating with actors that have aided the “genocide and exile” of Palestinians, such as Collins Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, two aerospace companies that have provided defense weapons to the Israeli government.

“We demand an end to the university partnerships with companies of war and bloodshed,” the letter read, alleging that the companies profit off of oppressed Palestinian people.

RELATED: Iowa Democratic Party call for resignation of UI student org leaders after Israel-Hamas war statement

After reading the letter, the crowd entered Jessup Hall and marched into the Office of the President, where they were quickly shut down by office staff because Wilson was allegedly not in her office at the time.

The lack of a university response is one reason for students attending the protest, calling Wilson’s silence the “voice of an oppressor.”

Pro-Palestine protests become center of nationwide movement

UI students and community members have organized multiple pro-Palestine protests since the start of the war on Oct. 7, organizing a weekly protest on the Pentacrest at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays and other protests that have gathered over 100 Iowa City residents calling for a ceasefire.

Many U.S. leaders, politicians, and other students have criticized the movement, however, calling it “antisemitic.”

Just a few hours after the walkout on Thursday, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst posted a Tweet, formerly known as X, calling for universities that allow such protests to lose federal funding.

The University of Iowa chapter of Young Americans for Freedom announced its “Stand Up for Israel Memorial” event on Nov. 13, where the UI students plan to honor Hamas’ hostages by placing 200 Israeli flags in Hubbard Park and observing a moment of silence. The organization said they “unequivocally condemn” Hamas, anti-Zionism, and antisemitism on the UI campus.

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About the Contributors
Grace Katzer
Grace Katzer, Politics Reporter
Grace Katzer is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications, Political Science, and a writing certificate. Previous to her position as a politics reporter, she has been a higher education news reporter at The Daily Iowan and interned with the Spencer Daily Reporter as a news reporter and Iowa Starting Line as a news media reporter.
Ava Neumaier
Ava Neumaier, Photojournalist
Ava Neumaier is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, majoring in English & Creative Writing. She was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook in New York, and has interned for a New York Times photographer. She enjoys taking pictures of performances and student life.