In the wake of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, a notable silence echoes across Florida A&M University’s campus as students and organizations are perceived to be relatively quiet with limited visible actions and initiatives in support of Palestinians.
When compared to other campuses and organizations in Tallahassee, some students and observers argue that FAMU’s engagement could be more robust in standing with those affected by the crisis.
The attack on Israel by the Hamas terrorist group on Oct. 7 reignited a bloody conflict between Israelis and Hamas that has gone on for more than half a century. Since the attack, the militant group has killed at least 1,300 people, causing the Israeli government to retaliate. The attacks from the government included launching aerial assaults on Palestinian land in preparation for a ground invasion of the Gaza territory; so far over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed, the majority being innocent lives of women and children.
Since early October, allies, students and organizations globally have been taking a stand for justice, empathy and solidarity. In the face of the ongoing challenges in the region, these students and their respective organizations are working to raise awareness, foster understanding, and contribute to the humanitarian efforts supporting those affected in Gaza.
While the world witnesses impassioned movements advocating for justice and peace, FAMU students and their associated organizations seem to be notably quiet, raising questions about the level of engagement and proactive support for Palestinians within the campus community. Even individual students who are actively engaged in the situation are disappointed in the broader response from FAMU, including fourth-year sociology major Trenece Robertson.
“If I’m being transparent, there is no organization at FAMU openly talking about this issue and that’s the problem,” Robertson said. “I’ve only seen a few FAMU students with a big platform use their platform to openly talk about, educate and provide resources, and it’s very upsetting.”
Robertson and student activist and FAMU NAACP Vice-President Zion Afolabi both expect more from their peers and university.
“The discrimination and control Palestinians have faced over the past century is so familiar to the Black experience in America,” Afolabi said.
said. “That’s why it frustrates me when Black people and other people of color do not understand the magnitude of this issue because you’re watching this happen again.”
Robertson said that she has seen way more action being taken at Florida State University. At FSU, students and student-ran organizations, such as FSU Students for a Democratic Society, have been extremely vocal and proactive through organizing informational sessions and protests, distributing educational materials and actively engaging with local and national leaders to advocate for a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict. Just recently, FSU SDS held a march and rally on FSU’s campus and disrupted the Nov. 10 FSU Board of Trustees meeting to acknowledge their stance against the Palestinian genocide.
Students and community members do not have to wait until an event is organized to take action. Students are encouraged to contribute in any way possible, either by learning more, sharing information, collaborating with other organizations, donating or writing letters to local and national officials.
“If you don’t have time to rally, if you yourself don’t have the luxury of going to a town hall, I recommend reading, learning,” Robertson said. “Most essentially, save your state representatives, city commissioner, house representative numbers and call them.”
It’s not clear what it will take to spark a dialogue within the FAMU community about the importance of active engagement and vocal advocacy for Palestinians. By addressing the observed quietude and challenging the status quo, FAMU students have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to a global movement for justice and solidarity.