Bulldogs For Palestine: An Inside Look at Fresno State’s Sit-In 

Photo by Crystal Hernandez

News of student arrests, violence, and riots have swept the nation as universities have organized protests, encampments, and sit-ins to rally academic support for Palestinians facing death and destruction.

Wednesday afternoon, students, faculty, professors, and community members gathered at Fresno State’s Free Speech area just outside the library for a peaceful sit-in for Palestine. The event was a product of Students for Palestinian Liberation (SPL), a student-led group on campus speaking up for a free Palestine and speaking out against the genocide taking place. 

“The whole purpose of doing this here is to stand in solidarity with other campuses, and to make sure people don’t take their eyes off of what is happening in Gaza right now,” said Haneen, the president of SPL. 

Photo by Crystal Hernandez

Opposition came in outlandish costumes and inflammatory comments, yet even through the instigation, the event participants and leaders stayed peaceful and calm with the help of supportive faculty and professors. 

Professor Samina Najmi, an English professor at Fresno State who specializes in multiethnic literature, stated her support for the sit-in.

 “I’m here first and foremost to support our students,” Najmi stated. “I think what they’re doing is part of a very long tradition of student activism in this country and the CSUs in particular. What they’re doing is very brave and very conscientious. And for the cause itself. In Gaza, every single university has been bombed to smithereens. Why are we not calling for a ceasefire? The faculty are here to protest genocide, duh!” 

The Fresno sun was scorching, but it did nothing to lower any voices. Several speakers took the stage at different points in the sit-in, which lasted four hours from 1 to 5 p.m. Monique Jackson, a local mother, grad student, and community activist, took the mic to pray over Gaza, the students at the sit-in, and students at Palestinian resistance events everywhere.

 “We’re all from different faiths,” she began. “If God is the creator of all of us, we should see [God] in all these children, women, and men in Gaza. It breaks my heart that they are blocking water and food; human rights. And I know it breaks God’s heart”

Photo by Crystal Hernandez

It was a huge point that Jackson, a protestant Christian, as well as a priest and members of other religions came together in solidarity. 

In addition to prayers, activists led the onlooking supporters in pro-Palestinian chants. Dozens of voices came together chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! Free Free Palestine!!” 

There were also several stories shared by students whose families are being directly affected by the genocide in Palestine. Community members shared incredibly personal testimonies, putting the ongoing destruction into perspective for those who have not seen it themselves. One student shared that he loses dozens of family members every day before he even has the chance to meet them. 

The environment of the day was solemn, yet energetic; peaceful, yet determined. 

After the sit-in was over, Rahaf, a student at Fresno State and SPL board member, said, “I was proud to see so many of my peers and friends come together and advocate for what is important”

The sit-in came and went without any violence, which was of utmost importance to the organizing members. Fresno State will remember this event as a day that demonstrated the empathy, consciousness, and passion of the Bulldog spirit, with so many students and faculty coming together as one to support a cause much greater than themselves.

Natalie Vasquez (they/she)

Related Posts