Student encampments for Palestine gain momentum

A series of student-led encampments in support of Palestine has gained traction across hundreds of university campuses worldwide. In the United States alone, at least 80 college and university campuses demanded their universities to divest from entities that support the occupation of Palestine. Various student groups have launched their own encampments in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom attracting thousands of students demanding an end to the genocidal war in Palestine. 

The youth and student-led movement sees students setting up temporary protest camps to symbolize their demand to uphold and respect Palestinian rights and raise awareness about the ongoing genocide committed by the Zionist Israeli state with full support from the US government. Students have set up tents, organized teach-ins and held rallies to draw attention to issues such as the bombing of hospitals in Gaza, the killing of Palestinian children, and the continuing blockade of humanitarian assistance.

Some university administrations, however, have responded with repressive measures against student organizers. On May 9, 2024, Filipino international student Eliana Atienza who was suspended for participating in the protest encampment at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). The protest camp, organized by Atienza urged UPenn to cut ties with Israel and lasted for 17 days despite the administration calling for police back up and arresting 32 people.

In addition to suspending Atienza who is the daughter of Filipino TV host Kim Atienza, and five other students, the UPenn administration also denied them access to their university dorms, leaving the student organizers ‘homeless.’

“Eliana’s suspension from school shall not cower but rather empower students in participating in political discourse and raising it into action. It is a challenge for every youth intellectual to dedicate their intelligence and spirit in service of the oppressed people around the world,” said the League of Filipino Students (LFS) in a statement.

As of writing, the encampments continue to grow, reflecting a widespread desire among the younger generation to advocate for justice, peace, and human rights in Palestine.