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February 19, 2024

Palestine action brings together demands for Pomona divestment, Suspend Pitzer Haifa

On Feb. 9, more than 100 students participated in an action that targeted a Pitzer Board of Trustees meeting and included a delegation at Alexander Hall.

Undercurrents staff
Over 100 students rallied outside of Alexander Hall to demand that Pomona College divest from Israeli apartheid.

On Friday, Feb 9, more than 100 Claremont students delegated to Alexander Hall in an action that brought together months-long campaigns for Pomona to divest from Israeli apartheid and for Pitzer to suspend its Haifa Study Abroad program. 25 students were also participating in a 24 hour hunger fast in solidarity with Brown University students on day eight of a hunger strike to demand divestment.

Fasting students wore shirts with the message “HUNGER STRIKE FOR GAZA.” They joined students from Harvard, Yale, and the University of Chicago in fasting from 5 a.m. that morning to the next in solidarity with Brown University hunger strikers, who ended their eight-day strike at 5 p.m.

Protestors carried a large red, black, and green quilt with the names of martyred Palestinians written across its surface. The quilt was large enough to cover the nearby basketball court, constructed over the course of multiple actions and club meetings. 

Organizers had initially planned to target a Pitzer Board of Trustees meeting at Skandera Hall to demand the suspension of the Haifa study abroad program, but the trustees shifted to an online Zoom meeting with a public link. 

Gathered together at Walker Beach, dozens of students joined the Zoom meeting with names such as “Suspend Pitzer Haifa.” The trustees adjourned the meeting and reconvened at a location undisclosed to the public after students joined.

An organizer at the rally pointed out the hypocrisy of the trustees’ actions as Pitzer publicly called for dialogue.

“Not only are they not meeting on campus because they are scared of facing the hundreds of anti-genocide students, but they adjourned as we began joining the conversation that they invited us to.”, they said to the gathered students. 

After the Board of Trustees adjourned their meeting, organizers led the crowd down 6th Street to delegate to Pomona administrators in Alexander Hall. Since the Shabbat sit-in on Dec .1, Pomona administrators have fortified Alexander Hall every Friday, denying entry without appointment, barricading doors and stationing Campus Safety officers at the entrance. 

Unable to enter, protestors gathered on the steps facing College Avenue, delivering a speech and chanting slogans such as “Israel bombs, Pomona pays, how many kids have you killed today?” and “Gabi Starr, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide!” 

A delegation speaker criticized the “hyper-militarization” of Pomona’s campus in response to the divestment campaign, specifically campus security’s increased surveillance of students using body cameras ostensibly meant to hold them accountable. Campus Safety officers present at Alexander Hall wore body cameras during the delegation.

“It has been clear since Oct. 7: the administration is not only afraid, but hypocritically continues their funding of the genocidal state.”

The speaker also brought up previous Pomona President David Alexander, the namesake of the administrative building, who refused to divest from South African apartheid until legally mandated to do so.

Another organizer concluded the action by announcing the upcoming ASPC referendum and urging the crowd to vote in support of divestment, disclosure, and compliance with the USACBI guidelines for an academic boycott of Israel.

“We all need to show up, show support, and take BDS to the next level. We’re gonna keep escalating, we’re gonna keep doing actions no matter how they try to throw us off.”

Read more

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Pitzer discloses $1.6M in defense and aerospace investments, a month after telling SJP it will not divest

Palestine

Incoming ASPC President: Pomona Board of Trustees want to “buy our silence and complicity in genocide through donations”

Palestine

Pomona admin met with Claremont Police Chief days before Alexander Hall sit-in to plan intervention, emails show

Thanks for reading Undercurrents

Undercurrents reports on labor, Palestine liberation, prison abolition and other community organizing at and around the Claremont Colleges.

Issue 1 / Spring 2023

Setting the Standard

How Pomona workers won a historic $25 minimum wage; a new union in Claremont; Tony Hoang on organizing

Read issue 1