New UG statement on Gaza does nothing to appease pro-Palestine students

The UG says it will investigate its partnerships with Israeli and Palestinian parties. But that is not good enough, say pro-Palestine students who protested against the university’s lack of action on Tuesday.

BY EÒIN GALLAGHER AND INGRID ŞTEFAN

In a statement published last week, the university board reaffirmed it wants to maintain an open dialogue about the Israel-Gaza war, while also facilitating a safe environment for academic freedom and freedom of expression. 

The UG previously issued a statement in November, stressing its neutrality. This new communiqué follows meetings between the board and groups of affected students from both sides of the conflict, including Jewish student union IJAR and Groningen for Palestine.

Disappointing

The latter described the UG’s reaction as ‘very disappointing’ during the demonstration in front of the Academy building, which attracted around fifty people. Students wrote the names of academics who have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict on a sign which read: ‘Academics your silence kills’.

‘Academic neutrality becomes a pretence to hide behind if it is used to stay silent in the face of our colleagues, peers, and students being murdered’, says international relations PhD student Alina Achenbach, who helped organise the protest. She was also one of its speakers.

More discussions

The UG says it will support students and staff members if their studies or work are impacted by the conflict. It also plans to facilitate more explanatory meetings, like the one held by Studium Generale in December, which explained the conflict in more detail. 

But that’s the bare minimum, according to Groningen for Palestine. ‘This is the university’s job, you need to be able to protect your students and you need to be able to do it on your own initiative’, says Achenbach. ‘You shouldn’t have to be reminded by students that Palestinians have humanity, you should know that yourself.’

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