USF students protesting Gaza war, defy Tuesday deadline to dismantle encampments

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

SAN FRANCISCO – Student protesters defied a University of San Francisco deadline to clear their anti-war protest encampment in the center of campus by 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Students and supporters instead held a rally in the center of the campus, speaking out against the war in Gaza.

The students have had the tent encampment for two weeks, calling for the private university to take action to divest of companies tied to the war in Israel. They are also calling on USF to take other actions to support Palestinian students on campus and Palestinians in Gaza, where the UN has declared a humanitarian crisis.

Students say it is personal to some of the protesters.

“We’ve had folks whose friends lost over 30 people from their family, entire bloodlines are lost,” said Sarah Tinawi, a USF graduate student, “All of this really like, amplifies the need for us to be the voice for people who don’t have a voice.”

In a letter to protesters, the USF President Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., explained steps they plan to take after a meeting Monday between the staff and student protest organizers.

The letter said that USF is pursuing some of the items that were discussed.

Those include calling again for a ceasefire in Gaza.

USF also says it will be giving a seat to at least one of the encampment organizers on the new Socially Responsible Investment Task Force, and considering their request for a second seat.

USF also says it is researching curriculum changes and the call for the addition of Palestine studies.

Students say they plan to remain on site, however, until they have assurances of more action.

“We know that we’re here until graduation.  We’re here until we get another meeting and we clear defined answers on everything,” said Susu Steyteyieh, a USF third-year student.

The USF Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Shannon Gary wrote a letter to student protestors that was distributed at the encampment Tuesday morning. The letter says anyone who remains camped here past today’s deadline could be disciplined if they violate the student conduct code. That includes suspension or expulsion for serious violations. Those potential violations listed in the letter include: “complicity, harm to persons, failure to comply, disruptive conduct, damage to property, university policies and procedures, unauthorized access or use, demonstration and fixed exhibit policy.”

A University of San Francisco spokesperson Angie Davis sent KTVU a statement Tuesday saying in part, “”The university is continuing to prioritize communication, dialogue, and de-escalation with the protesters…. We remain committed to continued dialogue and have not cut off conversation….. There are no plans to clear the encampment or involve law enforcement as long as the encampment is peaceful and nonviolent.”

Commencement ceremonies are scheduled to begin on Thursday, May 16th. 


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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.