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Fil-Am student at SF State explains why she joined pro-Palestinian protest

Q&A with San Francisco State University student Mari Ramos

By: Jun Nucum@inquirerdotnet

INQUIRER.net US Bureau /May 26, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO – Many students protesting the Israel-Hamas war at universities nationwide, including Filipino Americans, have faced a range of repercussions, from arrests to suspensions.

Eliana Atienza – the daughter of  TV personality Kim Atienza – was one of the University of Pennsylvania students who were recently suspended for participating in a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

Lauren Daus, a Fil-Am PhD student in UCLA Department of Education’s Urban Schooling Division, was arrested as police dismantled the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus earlier this month.

Student protesters at San Francisco State University (Shave recently reached an agreement with SFSU President Lynn Mahoney that addressed some of their demands, but Fil-Am SFSU student Mari Ramos tells Inquirer.net USA their fight continues.

Ramos, who is pursuing a degree in Broadcast Electronic Communications Arts, gave us an interview on why students continue to hold protest actions on campuses. He is a member of the Asian Pacific Islander Queer Trans Club and Gabriela SFSU.

Q: Why did you set up an encampment on campus?

A: We launched our encampment on campus in support of Palestinian liberation and in protest against the California State University’s complicity in the ongoing genocide happening in Gaza.

San Francisco State University is a part of the CSU school system and invests money in Israel’s military, which is actively murdering Palestinian people. Since October of last year, more than 30,000 Palestinian lives have been lost due to this ongoing genocide.

As students who are paying $5,000 a year to go to classes, we are not okay with that. We want full transparency with where our money is going and we want to have a say in where it is going.

The rallies and encampments that are happening across the country today are in protest against the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Q: Were your actions coordinated with student protests in other universities across the US?  

A: We have gotten help from UC Berkeley when it came to getting supplies, like extra tents and sleeping bags for our encampment. Besides asking for aid, we have stood in solidarity with other university encampments because we are fighting for the same cause.

Q: Who were the rally/encampment participants?

A: Majority are students and faculty at the university, but our support has reached others who aren’t a part of the university, like students from local community colleges.

It’s good to see that our cause has reached people outside of our university because a lot of people don’t acknowledge how a lot of issues are intertwined. For example, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation was held in San Francisco in November and that was to increase militarization around the world, and funding for extra militarization contributes to the genocide greatly.

Q: There were reports claiming that ‘outside agitators’ made the situation worse. Do you  agree?

A: The claim of ‘outside agitators’ is used to delegitimize our cause. In this case, police act as outside agitators to our cause because of the unnecessary brutality and force that students at other encampments, like Columbia and UCLA, have faced.

Q: What measures have you taken to avoid violence and ensure safety during your protest actions?

A: We have organized different committees in order to maintain safety among our students who are camping. We have security who take on night shifts to watch the camp, and we have medics who have first aid kits. We also have taken the time to convene with everyone who is involved during our general assemblies to make sure that every individual’s voice is heard.

Q: What are your demands?

A: We have four demands:

  • Full disclosure of any and all investments of our school and the CSU system.
  • Full divestment from any and all companies participating in the genocide of the Palestinian people.
  • Defend all Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation.
  • Full and public declaration and condemnation of genocide faced by the Palestinian people. We will not end our protests and encampments until our demands are heard by our school’s administration and the CSU school board.

Q: Are you open to a dialog?

A: Yes. On Monday, SFSU President Lynn Mahoney came to meet us to openly negotiate about our demands. From what I have heard, nothing has been fully decided yet on whether or not we will accept her negotiations. If this meeting falls through, we will continue with our encampment until we are completely heard and our demands are met.

(Note: Shortly after the interview, an agreement with university administrators was reached.)

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