A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

SACMedia

A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

SACMedia

A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

SACMedia

Students protest Mt. SAC canceling workshop on Palestinian oppression

Activists ascend into Academic Senate to support Raul Chavez
Students+and+local+activists+marching+toward+the+Founders+Hall+to+protest+at+the+ongoing+Academic+Senate.
Adam Young
Students and local activists marching toward the Founders Hall to protest at the ongoing Academic Senate.

On Dec. 6, Mt. SAC students and local activists gathered at the building 26 courtyard at 11 a.m. to speak at the Academic Senate about reinstating Raul Chavez’s Palestine workshop.

Chavez’s Palestine workshop, “Indigenous Solidarity: An Indigenous Perspective of the Tragedy in Gaza, and its Parallel Story to the 19th Century Native Americans,” was abruptly canceled as Mt. SAC administrators “withdrew sponsorship” with claims of “antisemitism.”

“The decision to cancel the [Palestine workshop] is a shameful act of censorship. The administration failed to create an inclusive atmosphere for Palestinian students and community,” Students for Socialism at Mt. SAC stated in an Instagram post.

 

 

Raul Chavez, a 63-year-old professor of Indigenous Studies at Mt. SAC, spoke on the current status of his Palestine workshop.“I’m kind of just waiting for the administration to respond,” Chavez said. “I think the consensus on the part of the students and myself is for the teach-in to be reinstated and sponsored by the Equity Center.”

Chavez added that he would even be OK with an opposition side being present during his workshop with an equal opportunity to state their cause.

Melissa Nuñez, 20, an environmental studies major at Mt. SAC expressed her distaste about Mt. SAC’s cancelation of Chavez’s workshop. “How can you allow Mt. SAC’s political and geography department to release a statement being pro-zionist and not allow students to release a statement being anti-zionist? It’s disgusting,” Nuñez said.

A visual effects artist and local, Layla Damian, 19, heard about this situation from her friends. “(Raul Chavez’s) class on Indigenous views was canceled and it’s obviously censorship from the school,” Damian said. “I think it’s ridiculous. I feel like a community college should be the last place to censor people, let alone teachers. It just made me angry and I’m not even a student here.”

 

Layla Damian (@laylasfotos) wearing a keffiyeh in solidarity with Palestinians. (Adam Young)

 

After chanting at the building 26 courtyard for five minutes, the student activists marched towards the Founders Hall to the Academic Senate taking place.

 

 

As the student protesters gathered inside Founders Hall, they quietly gathered around the Academic Senate as the senators began to sign in to start the meeting.

One administrator talked directly to the student protesters. “Demonstrators, remember when you are entering in a place of business, it is no longer free speech,” the administrator said.

“We have already passed public speaking opportunities and you will have to wait outside,” the administrator added.

Academic Senate President Tania Anders quickly pointed out there was still public comment time as the meeting had not started yet.

 

 

During public comment, multiple students spoke up about Chavez’s Palestine teach-in.

“Mt. SAC’s recent actions on censoring our voices and showing a clear opposition to Mr. Chavez’s workshop on the tragedy in Gaza has made me as a Palestinian-American feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable,” a student protester said during public comment.

As several students voiced their discontent and disappointment, the audience remained cordial throughout the entirety of the meeting.

 

Protesters standing silently in support around the Academic Senate with signs supporting Palestine. (Adam Young)

 

“Mt. SAC’s decision to withdraw sponsorship of indigenous professor Raul Chavez, during Native American Heritage Month no less, was a clear example of despicable censorship, racism and inequitable suppression,” another protester said.

Faculty and senators did not comment on the public comments regarding Chavez’s workshop, leaving some audience members irritated and frustrated.

After public comment, the student protesters left Founders Hall chanting in unison: “Mt. SAC, Mt. SAC you can’t hide. You’re supporting genocide.”

 

Local activist holding a sign: “Free Palestine” in front of the Founders Hall in solidarity with Chavez’s canceled workshop. (Adam Young)
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Adam Young, Editor in Chief
Adam Young is the Editor in Chief. He can be reached at [email protected].

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    Thomas EdsonDec 9, 2023 at 8:57 am

    The administrator / staff member in the video who told the protestors that public comment had ended was factually incorrect; the Senate meeting had not been called into order and public comment would occur shortly. Clearly the assembled students were rightfully present during a publicly open meeting of a governance body, and this staff member of the college was again factually incorrect by telling the students that they would have to wait outside.
    I am deeply disappointed that none of my colleagues—department senators—didn’t rise to correct the record on the spot. Shameful.

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