Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Students Continue Holding Programming for Palestine, Halt Commencement Celebrations Tent

Abe Frato
The People’s College for the Liberation of Palestine is occupying part of Wilder Bowl.

The People’s College for the Liberation of Palestine has continued its presence in Wilder Bowl into a second week. It is now comprised of two structures housing the “People’s Library” and a bake sale fundraiser, as well as several large canopies, all of which are used for daily programming from early morning until late evening. 

On Monday, workers for the College began constructing a tent near the People’s College for upcoming commencement events. This tent, in past years, has been used for Lavender Graduation, which celebrates the achievements of students who identify as LGBTQ+, and Unity Celebration, which honors the accomplishments of Oberlin’s graduating students of color. It also previously has taken up the majority of Wilder Bowl and, in theory, would be constructed on the space where the People’s College resides. Regardless of this, the People’s College remained in their spot and continued programming as normal. On Wednesday, workers left Wilder Bowl, and construction materials were removed. 

Director of Media Relations Andrea Simakis wrote a statement on behalf of the College about the halting of the tent and indicating that the graduation ceremonies are still happening. 

“We are moving a number of events away from Wilder Bowl and to other locations on campus,” Simakis wrote in an email to the Review. 

Organizers of the People’s College released a statement on the oberlin4palestine Instagram page regarding the College’s decision to halt construction on the tent. 

“If Oberlin’s decision leads to the jeopardization of the meaningful graduation ceremonies of minoritized students at Oberlin, the People’s College is committed to ensuring those events happen,” the statement reads. “If Oberlin attempts to frame our protest against the tent as disruptive to commencement, we ask that you re-center Oberlin’s refusal to acknowledge the violent destruction of Gaza and their complicity in genocide. And we will not allow Oberlin to use commencement as a casualty in the justification of their apathy.”

Since the Israeli military began its ground invasion on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, the People’s College has added fundraising outreach sessions to their schedule. Members of Oberlin 4 Palestine have been in communication with families who need to evacuate from Rafah and are promoting GoFundMes to help the families escape Gaza as well as provide aid. In Rafah, there are about 1.2 million people, 600,000 of whom are children and nearly all of whom are injured, sick, or malnourished. 

Each day’s educational programming at the People’s College starts with poems and group songs, as well as news sharing. At 5 p.m., students hold a rally. The day ends with a vigil at 8 p.m. followed by projections and film screenings. Teach-ins have covered a variety of topics, such as “History of Occupation in Palestine: Lebanon War–Present” and “Talking to Parents About Palestine.” On Tuesday, Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies Raechel Jolie led a teach-in on mutual aid. 

On Monday the People’s College released a letter titled “The People’s College Letter to the President” via @oberlin4palestine on Instagram. The letter was directed toward President Carmen Twillie Ambar and states, “We urge you to remain consistent in your messaging of peace and condemn Israel’s massively disproportionate response wrought against the entirety of Gaza’s population.” 

At the end of the letter, the People’s College listed three demands for the Oberlin administration, which are: “1. To immediately fulfill all funds for the evacuation of the remaining family members of Oberlin students from Gaza. 2. To acknowledge the widespread death and destruction in the Gaza Strip and call for an immediate ceasefire. 3. To expedite the approval of our divestment proposal for immediate consideration.” 

Commencement is still expected to take place on Monday, May 27 in Tappan Square, where it is usually held. 

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