The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The latest on the Pro-Palestinian protests across California universities

Kailyn Holty
On Thursday, April 25th, the Stanford Against Apartheid in Palestine (SAAP) formed their encampment.

13 pro-Palestinian protesters at Stanford University were arrested on Wednesday, June 5 following a barricade of Stanford president’s office. These 13 students join the over 3,000 arrests made in recent weeks following a much larger protest movement flooding the nation: the demand for university divestment from companies funding military efforts in the Israel-Hamas war. 

Students at over 120 universities and colleges started pro-Palestinian protests following the April 17th encampment at Columbia University that resulted in over 100 arrests at Columbia. Since then, 61 other universities saw the police called on protesters. In California, major protests occurred at University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Southern California (USC), California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt and Stanford University. 

The Paw Print spoke with Woodside graduates, protesters and professors at these universities to hear their thoughts on the pro-Palestinian protests. This is what they had to say. 


On Tuesday, April 30, UCLA officials declared the encampment, started on April 25, illegal. Hours later, violence ensued, which according to the New York Times, was instigated by counterprotesters on the scene. For almost three hours, fireworks were shot at pro-Palestinian protesters, chemicals were sprayed directly in people’s faces by both the protesters and counterprotesters, and fist-fights involving wooden boards and makeshift weapons erupted between the two groups before police arrived. 

Two days later, hundreds of police officers cleared the UCLA encampment using “non-lethal” weapons such as flash grenades and tear gas. UCLA freshman and Woodside graduate Max Lee was on the scene supporting protesters already in the encampment when police officers arrived.

“There were about a few hundred people there,” Lee said. “The police came with riot gear and they pushed everybody out. They were [also] launching a lot of flash-bangs.” 

Over 200 protesters were arrested and 300 more left voluntarily after police arrived. While police officers were at UCLA, Lee and other students observed police snipers on the roofs and large masses of protesters, many of whom weren’t students. 

“When I went to check out the protests, I was getting haggled and stopped by 30 year-old and 40 year-old people,” Lee said. “A lot of these people are alumnus or just random people that are using this as an opportunity to do whatever they want.”

In the days leading up to the protest, the pro-Palestinian protesters formed a makeshift barricade of plywood around the plaza in front of the campus’ Royce Hall theater. Tensions increased following the pro-Israel rally led by the Israeli-American Council on April 28th, which held a concert adjacent to the encampment. 

“I think [this conflict] has been a long time coming since the counter protesters set up a huge screen and a concert to agitate people in the encampment,” Lee said. “But even after [this], UCLA, two nights ago when the clash first occurred, had only minimal security and [the security] was comparable to the security at the basketball games.”

Following the police clearing of the pro-Palestinian encampment, graffiti demanding Palestinian liberation remained on the brick buildings and torn tents littered the plaza, marking a close to this protest as UCLA students and staff grapple with these events.


Last month, USC announced the cancellation of the valedictorian commencement speech by Asna Tabassum, a first-generation Muslim student, citing security concerns. This announcement came following criticism over Tabassum’s public pro-Palestinian beliefs. USC’s campus erupted in protests with a pro-Palestinian encampment forming just days after the announcement. Since then, over 90 students have been arrested at USC. 

USC freshman and Woodside graduate Gabriel Perez shared his thoughts on the canceling of Tabassum’s commencement speech. 

“When it comes to something that is against [USC’s] personal financial interests and they decide to shut someone up, I think that’s wrong,” Perez said. “Just because they don’t agree with it, they’re not allowing someone to speak.”

Perez noted how USC has allowed numerous other controversial or high security-risk speakers such as Barack Obama and Ben Shapiro to speak on campus. Yet in Perez’s opinion, a double standard seems to be present with how Tabassum and pro-Palestinian protesters are treated by the USC administration. 

“If you look at the majority of the people who are protesting, it’s really peaceful,” Perez said. “[The protesters are] abiding by all the laws that USC has and the only people who are escalating [the protest is] the police.”

Most of the students in the encampment being arrested have been charged with trespassing due to USC’s policies against forming encampments. USC has additionally claimed that protesters have vandalized and stolen school property, harassed officers and students, blocked access to central locations, brough dangerous weapons and caused noise disruptions. Perez, however, shared that many students camped out when singer Travis Scott visited USC and weren’t arrested for trespassing. 

“I’ve had a couple of my friends get detained,” Perez said. “Someone I knew from the School of Cinematic Arts got arrested [and] charged with trespassing. Someone else I know, who is at Columbia, has also been working closely with [the pro-Palestinian] movement and he visited the detainment facility yesterday.” 

UC Berkeley:

After weeks of protesting along the steps of Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, pro-Palestinian protesters, led by the UC Berkeley Divest Coalition, have dismantled their encampment of 180 tents following negotiations with Chancellor Carol Christ. This agreement makes Berkeley one of four California universities that has initiated settlements with the protesters, notably making no arrests. 

On May 14, 2024, Christ released a statement supporting the examination of Berkeley’s investments into companies that do not align with the school’s values. While Christ did reject pro-Palestinian demands to directly target Israel through divestment, Christ is working with staff and faculty to develop a task force that investigates anti-Palestinian discrimination as well as working with the Jewish community to address anti-Semitism on campus. Berkeley sophomore and Woodside graduate Shai Dickman shared his thoughts on the Berkeley protest.   

“So far, it’s been more peaceful than other universities like Columbia and UCLA, which is good, because the news has been a little scary,” Dickman said. “I will admit [that] I think there’s a lot of tension still [at] school.”

As a Jewish student, Dickman feels torn between the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups. While Dickman understands the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the hate speech present on campus makes it difficult to support the protest. 

“There is a loud minority that gets anti-Semitic [and spreads things] throughout the protests,” Dickman said. “I can’t comfortably march along with that. I don’t want people to know I’m Jewish when I’m on campus now.”

For Dickman, the campus protest creates a culture where students must pick a side regarding the Israel-Hamas war. Yet, Dickman notes how it’s not easy to choose a side when the issue isn’t black-and-white. 

“On campus, I feel like I need to defend my Jewish identity,” Dickman said. “But my family is Israeli and they’ll pick the opposite side…I feel like sometimes they are not acknowledging how terrible Israel has been in Gaza. So I have to switch roles at home…The truth is, [the crisis in Gaza] is a tragedy.”

Berkeley has a large reputation as an epicenter of protesting movements. A year and a half ago, 10,000 Berkeley employees along with 48,000 University of California workers began an indefinite strike demanding better pay and benefits. This was led by the United Auto Workers (UAW) bargaining units which represent academic researchers, student employees, graduate student researchers and postdoctoral scholars. Dickman was involved in the protest, photographing the event and supporting the union workers. 

“The striking went on for a long time, but the university did negotiate on that one,” Dickman said. “The school is very proud of its history of protesting. But when there’s protesting in the present, then they’re not very happy about it.”


Red paint used to represent blood coated a cardboard cutout of Stanford University President Richard Saller on Thursday, April 25th, marking the start of the Stanford Against Apartheid in Palestine (SAAP) encampment. This protest is calling for the university to divest from Chevron, Lockheed Martin and Hewlett-Packard, companies that have invested in the Israeli military. The encampment, known as “The People’s University of Palestine,” follows SAAP’s previous 120-day “Sit-in to Stop Genocide” at the same location that ended in February. 

At the Stanford encampment, signs with “Jews Say Ceasefire Now!” and “Divest!” were hung around the plaza. Students involved in the protest invited onlookers to visit the encampment, engage in active conversations and try one of the many meals donated by community members. On a daily basis, “The People’s University of Palestine” hosts community-led programming centered around Palestine and U.S. imperialism. 

“All of these people are fulfilling their moral and ethical obligations as residents in the U.S,” Adriana, a Stanford student and member of the protest who declined to give her last name, said. She continued, alleging that “the U.S. sends so much money to Israel and we’re directly facilitating [and] committing genocide considering we are where the money comes from and we are where the weapons come from.” 

It is worth noting that labeling Israel’s actions as genocidal is widely debated. In response to the encampment, Stanford President Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez released a letter warning students of suspension or expulsion from the university for prohibiting their policy of no overnight camping. So far, the university has dispensed letters to about 60 students notifying them of their referral to the Office of Community Standards for violating university policy. 

Since the arrests made on Wednesday, law enforcement officials have begun dismantling the pro-Palestinian encampment and pro-Israel display established in response to the encampment. The students arrested are facing suspension and those that are seniors will not be able to graduate. 

Stanford Associate Director of Jewish Studies Shaina Hammerman shared how her experience teaching Jewish studies offers a lens into the modern day conflict. This experience allows her to understand the general divide among students, not just at Stanford, but across the country.

“If there is a greater divide between students on campus now than before the war, it is because the United States in general has become gradually more deeply divided and siloed in the past ten years or so about nearly every political issue,” Hammerman said. “One of my aims, and I think I share this with many others at Stanford, is to foster dialogue across differences.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kailyn Holty
Kailyn Holty, Editor in Chief
Kailyn Holty is a junior and third-year journalist. She enjoys writing about campus life, current events, and cultural pieces. She hopes to raise awareness of student issues through her writing. In her free time, she likes playing tennis, hiking, completing jigsaw puzzles, and reading.

Comments (0)

All comments should be attached to your real name and email—we do NOT accept anonymous comments. Comments will only be published if they engage substantively and respectfully with the points of an article.
All The Paw Print Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *