Austin, TX – On Thursday, November 9, students at UT Austin held multiple Palestine solidarity actions in response to the national day of action to Shut it Down for Palestine.
Around 500 students walked out of class at noon, gathering in front of the campus gym for a rally. Chants like, “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has got to go,” echoed throughout the campus.
Ashley Awad, speaking for Austin Students for a Democratic Society, said, “The state of Texas, as well as our own university, has provided millions upon millions of dollars to Israel. This is disgusting and appalling. Our university’s president, Jay Hartzell, has failed! He’s failed to defend Palestinian students – pretty much since the beginning of time but especially after October 7th – belittling and erasing their very existence in the UT community.”
“But we have not backed down,” Awad continued. “And we will defend this movement no matter what tactics they try to use against us. Do not give up. Everybody here today, do not give up. And remember, if we want collective liberation, then we must fight for Palestinian liberation. Free free Palestine!”
After the rally, the Palestine Solidarity Committee who organized the walkout, led students in a march to the UT Tower. There, students hand delivered hundreds of letters to the university president’s office, demanding that the university protect pro-Palestine student voices, and divest from weapons manufacturing companies that aid Israeli occupation.
It began pouring rain during the rally, but that did not stop students from continuing to protest. Later in the afternoon, a group of around 15 students dropped a banner over 21st Street and Speedway. One Zionist heckler tried to disrupt the protest, physically attacking a student worker with the university Student Activities Office. But protesters blocked him from disrupting any more and chanted over him, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
The chanting could be heard loud and clear from two blocks away, and many passersby on the street below lit up upon seeing the banner and joined in with the chants.