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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student groups hold ‘March for Freedom’ in response to arrest of undergraduate protestors

On Oct. 28, the Hanover Police Department arrested protestors Roan V. Wade ’25 and Kevin Engel ’27 on criminal trespassing charges.

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On Oct. 30, various student groups, including Sunrise Dartmouth, held the “Student March for Freedom” after Hanover Police Department officers arrested Kevin Engel ’27 and Roan V. Wade ’25 for trespassing on College property on the night of Oct. 28. 

At the time of arrest, Engel and Wade were protesting in favor of “divesting the College’s endowment from all organizations that are complicit in [Israeli] apartheid and its apparatuses,” according to the Sunrise Movement’s Dartmouth New Deal — a document outlining policy recommendations for the College.

At the march, Jessi Yu ’25 elaborated on these recommendations.  

“We demand divestment from Israeli apartheid in compliance with the 2022 Amnesty International report, specifically through ending College-sponsored alumni and Birthright trips to Israel, including Birthright Israel, and ending academic exchange with Israel universities, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, divesting from the defense contractors which support the Israeli war machine and broad investments [that] support Israeli apartheid,” Yu said. 

Majid Hejazi Th’23, who also spoke at the march, said the arrests were “absolutely not acceptable.”

“[College President Sian Leah Beilock] continues to make bad decisions by sending out [an email] on Saturday morning, justifying arresting students on campus,” Hejazi said. “This is what we call choking under pressure, so we are here today. Students should not be arrested for their freedom of speech, and Dartmouth administration should change their strategy towards the students.”

The march began on the front lawn of Parkhurst Hall — the site of the arrests — where Hejazi spoke to a crowd of around 100 to 150 protesters, according to English and creative writing professor emerita Ivy Schweitzer. In his speech, Hejazi said the protest was an effort to support Wade and Engel and to continue showing support for the Palestinian people. 

“This [peaceful protest] is called physical action, and this is called a brave space,” Hejazi said, referencing Beilock's initiative to create places of open dialogue around campus.  

From Parkhurst, the protestors marched across the Green towards the Hanover Inn. While walking, Hejazi led the crowd in chants: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” “Beilock, Beilock, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide,” “free free Palestine” and “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry. Palestine will never die!” 

Once situated on the Green across from the Hanover Inn, protestors spoke to the crowd. 

Engel and Wade first discussed their experiences protesting outside of Parkhurst and voiced frustration against the College administration. 

“Where is the support?” Engel asked. “All I see is officials acting outside of their authority and their jurisdiction to harass students. There has been no support. And these claims [of physical violence] are not only insulting, but an intentional misrepresentation of history. And we cannot allow this to stand.”

Engel also recounted their and Wade’s arrest, describing how they gave a copy of the Dartmouth New Deal to the College administration. They then proceeded to wait “for hours” before the administration began negotiating with them.   

“Even when [negotiation] did occur, it was not through an administrative official, it was through a mutual third party that was not even affiliated with the administration of Dartmouth,” Engel explained. “... They treated us as if we were hostage negotiators.”

In an email statement, College media relations strategist Jana Barnello wrote that Student Life, the Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Life and the Department of Safety and Security “checked on the demonstrators daily beginning Oct. 19, offering support, checking on their well-being and explaining how the demonstration could come into compliance with Dartmouth policies so that the peaceful protest could continue.” Barnello added that this included “six hours of talks the night of the student arrests.”

In response to Beilock’s refusal to directly negotiate with Engel and Wade, Hayden El Rafei ’24 called out Beilock for “avoiding dialogue” regarding “this institution’s investment in a murderous, settler-colonial regime.”

El Rafei then spoke on how Beilock erred once again when she signed off on the arrest of the students.

“You are a scholar who has worked on how our minds handle pressure,” El Rafei said, addressing Beilock. “You have a famous TED talk and a God damn book where you discuss why we choke under pressure and how to avoid it. And when it mattered most, you choked.”

Barnello wrote that President Beilock offered to meet with students that night in her office, which the students declined. Furthermore, Barnello wrote that Beilock and others will meet today with “representatives from the Palestine Solidarity Coalition, Al-Nur and others involved in the demonstration.” 

In an Oct. 28 email to campus following the arrests, Beilock maintained that the arrests were necessary because the two student protestors had “threatened in writing to ‘escalate and take further action,’ including ‘physical action.’” She wrote that when these threats were made clear, she had no choice but to “take action so the the physical safety of our students, faculty, staff, and all those who call our campus home cannot be endangered.” 

In an Oct. 31 op-ed published by The Dartmouth, Wade and Engel countered Beilock’s email statement by clarifying that “physical action encompasses a wide array of nonviolent civil disobedience, from sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement to the shantytown students constructed to highlight Dartmouth’s investment in South African Apartheid.”

Wade also expressed her frustration about the administration’s response to the protests on Oct. 28, she and Engel’s ensuing arrests and Beilock’s justification of the arrests. 

“[The College] does not care about our demands, about our voice, about our safety — it cares about its own media image and has made that explicitly clear, [such as] when Beilock manipulated our words [of ‘physical action’],” Wade stated. “What we really need to change is the way that this institution functions to silence our voices and continues to exploit us and our comrades in Gaza, across the country and across the world.” 

In the march, Lily Ren ’23 discussed what she called “a collective amnesia” in public conversations about the Israel-Gaza war.

“The current discourse works to silence the fact that there is a genocide going on right now,” Ren said. “This course is insidious … The tactic of the state and the administration is to install doubt and denial, but our power lies in our inevitable ability to resist.”

Correction Appended (Nov. 2, 12:10 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote about collective amnesia to Jessi Yu ’25. Lily Ren ’23 spoke about collective amnesia at the march. The article has been updated.

Updated (Nov. 2, 12:10 p.m.): An email statement from College media relations strategist Jana Barnello clarified the context of the students’ arrest, including information about a meeting between Beilock and several student organizations today.