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

Students walk out in support of Palestine, issue second open letter to UI

UI students reemphasized their demands after the UI did not fulfill the requests of their open letter last week
Sahithi Shankaiahgari
Attendees plant flags during the Student Solidarity Walkout at the Pentacrest on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. The demonstration was organized by the Iowa City Students for Justice in Palestine.

A week after sending a letter to University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson asking for a statement condemning anti-Palestinian rhetoric, among other requests, pro-Palestine protestors gathered for another walk-out protest on the Pentacrest Friday afternoon. 

Nearly 50 UI students and community members gathered for the protest. Holding signs and Palestine flags, the protestors chanted and planted the flags along the walkway leading up to the Old Capital building. 

Iowa City Students for Justice in Palestine and White Coats For Black Lives staged the walk-out and wrote a second letter to Wilson and her cabinet, expanding on their demands. 

Friday’s letter, following an open letter sent to Wilson on Nov. 9, lists eight demands for the UI, the UI Carver College of Medicine, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Iowa City Students for Justice in Palestine and White Coats for Black Lives co-wrote the letter, which requests the UI stakeholders: 

  • Call on the Israeli government to stop the unrelenting assault on Gaza’s health system
  • Make a statement in support of the ceasefire
  • Accommodations and protections for students facing discrimination due to anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic rhetoric. 
  • An immediate end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and all U.S. military funding to Israel 
  • The UI needs to divest from weapons manufacturers — an immediate end to a corporate partnership with Collins Aerospace System and Lockheed Martin.
  • Cut all ties with Bar-Ilan University, which is a public research facility in Israel, and refuse to participate in conferences funded or sponsored by Isreali academic institutions.
  • The UI must recognize the Israel-Hamas war as a historical and systemic genocide. 
  • Prohibit security and public safety officers from training with any persons, materials, or methods from Israel police, military, or security forces, and refuse to hire or coordinate with any security, public safety officers, or agencies involved with Israel. 

Yahir Jimenez, co-founder of Iowa City Students for Justice in Palestine, read the list of demands to the crowd. 

More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war on Oct. 7, including over 4,000 children. 

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t call for a cease-fire on Gaza and its people unless the nearly 240 Israel hostages are released, the Associated Press reported this week. Over 1,200 Israelis died in an attack on Oct. 7 at the start of the war.

Jimenez spoke about the history of Nov. 17, deemed International Students Day, and the courage of all student movements in every struggle. 

Kate Doolittle, a member of Iowa City Students for Justice in Palestine, said their demands remain unmet and the university is silent. 

Doolittle said they received a response from the open letter last Friday from Peter Matthes, vice president for external relations and senior advisor to the president, which stated the university will uphold policy from the Iowa Board of Regents and not issue a statement of support for Palestine, as was requested in the open-letter. 

President Mike Richards released a statement of support on Nov. 1 in support and solidarity of the people and state of Israel. 

“We condemn all acts of terrorism,” Richards said. 

Doolittle said the protest Friday is in response to the university’s continued silence. 

Ariele Andalon, representative of White Coats For Black Lives, helped write the second letter in collaboration with the Students for Justice in Palestine Iowa City. 

“As a health care worker and health care student and future health care worker, it just feels unconscionable to ignore,” Andalon said. 

Shana Liu, a UI medical student, joined the protest because she felt people in the medical field and the Carver College of Medicine and UIHC have a responsibility to speak up for those who are suffering in Gaza. 

“It’s an illegal genocide, and as a medical student, there’s a lot of health implications involved in this,” Liu said. “Every day I see clips of doctors there on the field talking about what it’s like to care for the patients there because everyone there is a patient nowadays — they’re all suffering.” 

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About the Contributor
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.