Campus News

Washed away: Palestinian students asked to cease chalking

Student organizations were asked to stop chalking after Students for Justice in Palestine chalked in Butler Plaza. | Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar

In recognition of Israeli Apartheid Week, the University of Houston chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine is hosting on-campus events and showing support for Palestinian liberation.

While SJP’s initial plan was to chalk outside of Butler Plaza the entire week, student organizations were emailed by the Center for Student Involvement assistant director Allyson Yolland on Tuesday that they aren’t allowed to “chalk” on campus.

“Please note that if your organization is found doing so, you could get reported to the Dean of Students office and your organization could get suspended,” the email read.

The UH Freedom of Expression page also explicitly states chalking is not allowed.

“We wanted to take the opportunity to remind student leaders of existing policies, community standards, and ensure that we are all being good stewards of our space on campus,” said CSI Director Katy Kaesebier.

However, some SJP members have noted that other student organizations, such as the UH chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, have chalked previously without interference.

“UH is uncomfortable with students chalking against genocide but not uncomfortable with the fact that their investments fund genocide,” SJP said in an Instagram story.

The organization also posted on Wednesday that they were moved from Butler Plaza but despite this initial hiccup, SJP switched gears and is now using large strips of paper and color markers to display their message near the side of MD Anderson Library.

“The student body will not be silenced,” SJP said in an Instagram story. “We have shown the administration where we stand and we will continue to find different methods of expressing our demands.”

Aside from the visual projects, the organization’s speaker-led events are continuing without interruption.

The first IAW event, Empire Abroad, consisted of a student-led panel discussing imperialism and its impact on not only Palestine, but also other countries including the Philippines, Kashmir and other regions.

“We’re connecting the resistance struggles there and the militarism that has been backed mainly by the U.S. and global superpowers that continuously subjugate the people and take advantage of the region or materials,” said an SJP officer who preferred not to be identified.

On Thursday, Empire at Home will focus on internal oppression in the U.S., such as in Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Houston.

On top of the weeklong events, SJP is also asking students to participate in a complete economic strike and to sign a pledge urging UH leaders to divest from “companies that profit from apartheid, militarism, and death.”

This isn’t the first time this movement has occurred. UH Divest and SGA successfully passed a resolution in 2022 to ask the University to cease their investments in multiple arms manufacturing companies.

Students raise awareness of brands sold on-campus to boycott. | Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar

In the most recent Student Government Association election, over 60% of voters were in favor of the removal of Starbucks and McDonald’s, something SJP is advocating for.

“We’re trying to get the University to divest from arms manufacturers and also get rid of the McDonald’s and Starbucks on campus, and also Sabra and any company that essentially invests or funds genocide in any kind of way.”

[email protected]

Leave a Comment