May 17, 2024 - News

FIU students launch liberated zone, join Gaza protest movement

A liberated zone at FIU.

Students gathered at a liberated zone at Florida International University. Photo: Sommer Brugal/Axios

Students at Florida International University on Wednesday set up a liberated zone on campus in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, joining a nationwide movement among college students.

  • On Thursday, about two dozen students were in attendance as the organization leading the demonstration, Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU, was hosting teach-ins and discussions.

Why it matters: The FIU students join protesters at campuses across the country calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and asking their educational institutions to divest from Israel.

  • Demonstrating on the university's campus is a way to show the students don't stand with it, Nourah Jandali, a rising senior and organizer, told Axios.

The big picture: The effort launched on Nakba Day, which honors the displacement of Palestinian civilians in the 1940s, and "it was important to mark this day specifically," Nikki Morse, an organizer with South Florida Jewish Voices for Peace, told Axios.

Between the lines: While many other student-led demonstrations have launched an encampment — setting up tents for uninterrupted occupations — students at FIU chose a liberated zone where students can gather only during the day.

  • "The encampment is something we'd like to achieve, but we were going for sustainability," Abeer Barghouthi, a Ph.D. student leading the demonstration, told Axios on Thursday.
  • The group plans to be on campus every day until the school administration agrees to meet with them.

What they're saying: The effort focuses on education and hopes to counter "the mistaken impression that [the students staging pro-Palestinian protests] are saying anything antisemitic," Morse said.

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