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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

SFSU begins encampments in solidarity with Gaza, joining a nationwide movement

Assorted students, faculty and community members gathered to express solidarity with Palestine and call for the CSU’s divestment from the state of Israel
Neal Wong
A protestor directs chants through a megaphone as other protestors set up tents at San Francisco State University’s quad on Monday, April 29, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress)

The encampments that have spread across the country now come to San Francisco State University as student advocates show support for Palestine.

Just before 12:15 p.m. on Monday, SFSU students and faculty gathered in Malcolm X Plaza to protest what SFSU’s Students for Gaza is calling a genocide.

A person does their homework in the Cesar Chavez Student Center while the rally for Palestine happens in Malcolm X Plaza on Monday, April 29, 2024. (Andrew Fogel/Golden Gate Xpress) (Andrew Fogel)

Around 600 students, faculty, and advocates unassociated with SFSU gathered in the quad before marching around campus in a pro-Palestine rally to demonstrate solidarity with Gaza.

Multiple speakers expressed their support, garnering cheers of approval from the gathered crowd, picket signs emerging overhead. Many students expressed resentment towards the California State University system and called for financial divestment from Israel, opposing the CSU’s alleged investment in corporations that support Israel’s military operations. Students who served as representatives of different student organizations showed their support. 

Shortly after, the group dispersed to the quad and started pitching tents for an encampment, joining hundreds of colleges across the country in a nationwide trend to support Palestine. A large group locked hands to form a human barricade, protecting those in the process of setting up camp.

What started as just a few tents grew into over 20, including a medic tent with trained medical professionals. A media tent was also set up for a handful of participants who were specifically trained in media relations.

A person sets up a tent in the encampment in the Quad on Monday, April 29, 2024. People brought tents, water, generators and other equipment to sustain the protest. (Andrew Fogel/Golden Gate Xpress) (Andrew Fogel)

In the encampment, reads a list of student demands hanging from a canopy. They read:

  • DISCLOSE institutional expenditure, including direct and indirect investments, stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and more. We demand full financial transparency about how our endowment is spent. Further, we demand SFSU President Lynn Mahoney to publicly oppose any and all CSU investments complicit in the Israeli Occupation. We demand President Mahoney to pledge to bring her opposition of CSU investments in Israeli Occupation publicly to the CSU Board of Trustees.
  • DIVEST from all companies and partnerships which actively participate in the colonization and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. This includes financial investments, academic partnerships with institutions and programs in ’48 Palestine, and institutional relationships with companies participating in the genocide on Gaza
  • DEFEND the Palestinian people and the courageous struggle for Palestinian liberation on campus through rejecting the racist, Islamophobic censorship of speech and activism on campus. We demand SFSU President Lynn Mahoney publicly oppose SB 1287, and defend our right to protest, speech and assembly just as Mahoney and SFSU praise the 1968 Third World Liberation Strike.
  • DECLARE fully and publicly the illegal occupation, colonization, and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and the U.S.-Israeli genocide on Gaza.

Several rally participants affirmed their support for Gaza as the event continued, featuring several speakers.

“I’m here today to support Palestine,” said M.V., a political science student.

Vasques cited her own family’s experiences with political conflict as part of why she chose to attend Monday’s rally.

“I’m from Guatemala and my family has suffered through too many genocides before — even, like, recently, in the ‘80s. And it hurts to see it happen again,” Vasques said.

Celia LoBuono Gonzalez, an SFSU alumna, returned to campus to take part in the rally. She said that Monday’s gathering allowed students to exercise their right to free speech and, ultimately, to stand with Palestinians.

”I think today is an opportunity to show up — not just for students, but for Palestinians; to support Palestinians’ human rights and stop Israel from continuing a social genocide,” Gonzalez said.

A drummer walks around the encampment in the Quad while others chant on Monday, April 29, 2024. (Tam Vu/Golden Gate Xpress) (Tam Vu)

Mahoney emphasized the university’s legacy as an institution that facilitates freedom of speech and expression.

“S.F. State has a long history of student activism and strong engagement with social and political issues. Campus activism is a part of who [we] are,” Mahoney emailed to GGX. “I have also repeatedly made clear my deep commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom. Last fall, we experienced a number of protests. The University remains committed to providing space for peaceful protest.”

FJP-SFSU, Faculty for Justice in Palestine, has three demands of Mahoney:

  • Refrain from dispatching police forces against potential student demonstrations.
  • Refrain from academic retaliation against students.
  • Respect students’ right to protest on their campus against injustice 

The CFA (California Faculty Association) San Francisco Chapter, a union representing faculty at the California State University, publicly posted support for the encampment on Instagram.

Nevertheless, several students expressed dissatisfaction with a perceived failure to accommodate student demands on the university’s part.

“I mean, it’s hard not to be supportive of something that’s so historic and fucked up,” said SFSU graduate student David Doucette, who earned his undergraduate degree in political science. 

Jose Hernandez, a business major, also stated his support for Palestine.

“I think we have to be in solidarity with the people [who’ve] died, the people [Israel is] killing every day,” Hernandez said. “I’m supporting [because] it’s the thing that I can do, you know — protest.”

Along with a canopy sheltering designated media liaisons and a course teaching encampment members how to respond to journalists and de-escalate with authorities, two UCSF doctors who went by Nida and Yoongi donated supplies. These included tampons, pads, sunscreen, and other basic medical products like melatonin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol. Volunteers from around the bay are also working the medical tent.

“It’s important to protect students’ rights to protest this,” said Patrick Lopez-Aguado, in support of his spouse, a faculty member at SFSU.

Police presence on campus was rather slim on the first day of the demonstration, with university police officers patrolling the area from afar with little involvement. Administrators were also taking a hands-off approach.

This is a developing story.

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About the Contributors
Luke Cramer
Luke Cramer, Staff Reporter
Luke Cramer is a reporter for the Golden Gate Express. He is majoring in Journalism and Political Science. He is from Santa Monica California and now lives in San Francisco. During his free time, he enjoys playing golf and the guitar.
Dan Hernandez
Dan Hernandez, Visuals Editor
Dan Hernandez (he/him) is the Visuals Editor for Golden Gate Xpress, majoring in journalism and minoring in business administration. He is an award-winning multimedia journalist, applying his skills in both news reporting and press photography. He got his start in journalism at 15 years old as a staff writer for The Advocate at Contra Costa College before becoming editor-in-chief as a high school senior. Outside of journalism, he is probably camping on a road trip, playing water polo, riding his bike or dancing at concerts. He also goes by the nickname “Biscuit.”
Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Co-Copy Editor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a third-year journalism student and minoring in urban studies and planning. He was born and raised in San Francisco and attended Washington High School. He has photographed and written for Golden Gate Xpress first as a contributor, then as a photographer, and now as a copy editor. His photos have also been published by the San Francisco Bay ViewSan Francisco Public Press, Mission Local, and Xpress Magazine. Neal has also created and taught four SFSU Experimental College courses. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and reading.
Tam Vu
Tam Vu, Photo Editor
Tam Vu (she/her) is a Vietnamese-American photographer for Golden Gate Xpress and Xpress Magazine. She is a fourth-year photojournalism major with a minor in Asian American studies. She originally entered SF State as a print and online journalism major, but switched to photojournalism in her second year after finding her passion for visual storytelling. Her special interests include Asian American identity and music journalism. In the near future, she hopes to make a video documentary on her parents' immigration story to highlight the generational impact that the Vietnam War has on many families. Outside of school, she loves to attend live music shows, find new music, and crochet.
Andrew Fogel
Andrew Fogel, Photographer
Andrew Fogel is a photographer for Golden Gate Xpress and Xpress Magazine who’s majoring in photojournalism and minoring in labor and employment studies. If he’s not taking photos, Andrew can be found rooting for the various Philadelphia sports teams. He aspires to be either a staff photographer or a sports photographer in the future.

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