The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


‘Divestment and Disclosure’ Rally Draws Hundreds

The event was organized by leaders of Fordham’s undergraduate SJP, an unsanctioned group fighting for official club status on campus
Students and faculty gathered and demanded that the university divest from investments connected to Israel’s war on Gaza.

At a rally organized by leaders from Fordham’s undergraduate Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), students and faculty crowded the corner of 60th Street and Columbus Avenue on Thursday, April 25 at roughly 11:30 a.m. 

Fordham SJP presented four demands in a petition which has since garnered over 1,800 signatures. The petition urges that the university calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza alongside “an end to the genocide, and an end to the 75-year-long occupation of Palestine.”

In addition to divestment from companies tied to Israel’s war on Gaza, SJP also insists on full financial transparency of current and future investments, commitment to the Palestinian Academic Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) ,and cutting ties with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University. Both universities have partnered with Fordham for study abroad programs in the past

The student group remains an unsanctioned club after the four year long Awad v. Fordham lawsuit, and SJP demanded that the university reinstate the group and re-grant them official club status.

Faculty, Fordham alumni and current students delivered speeches and led chants at the rally. Attendees marked the increased momentum in the pro-Palestinian student movement while decrying the high civilian death toll seen in the Israeli military’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, which organizers called a “genocide” against Palestinians.

Public safety officers and the New York Police Department were also present. Assistant Vice President of Public Safety Robert Dineen estimated the size of the crowd to be around 200 people.

During the rally, a speaker of Palestinian descent, shared that over 50 members of her family had been killed during the ongoing war. The student paid tribute to her seven year old cousin, Ali, “who pedaled his bike to what he believed was freedom, only to be silenced by a bomb,” she said. 

Two plaintiffs of the Awad v. Fordham lawsuit returned to address the crowd at their alma mater, Julie Norris, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ‘19 and Ahmad Awad, FCLC ‘17.

“We’re gathered here today shoulder to shoulder with other brave students across the country,” Norris said in a speech at the rally. “Responding to the bravery of Columbia students who saw the historical role that we play in bringing an end to the genocide of the Palestinian people.”

“I do wish for peace and the end of the terrible suffering that Palestinian civilians have faced the brunt of. But the state of Israel’s continued existence is indispensable to the welfare of the Jewish people and their future.” David Wyle, FCLC ’27

While Fordham’s ban was ultimately upheld, Awad and the original petitioner in Awad v. Fordham, said the rally’s turnout showed that pro-Palestinian students had nonetheless prevailed.

“Fordham actively worked to deny students on campus the chance to form a student group for Palestinian human rights. Unfortunately for them, they failed,” Awad said in a speech to the cheering crowd.

Toward the end of the rally, a small group gathered by the Lowenstein entrance, holding up an Israeli flag. One of the students holding the flag was David Wyle, FCLC ’27. Wyle shared that he held up the flag in support of the Israeli state. 

“I do wish for peace and the end of the terrible suffering that Palestinian civilians have faced the brunt of,” he said. “But the state of Israel’s continued existence is indispensable to the welfare of the Jewish people and their future.”

Following the launch of the “Gaza solidarity encampments” by students at Columbia University on April 17, encampments and protests have occurred at academic institutions across the country.

Students at other colleges across the New York City Metropolitan Area, including at The New School, Fashion Institute of Technology, City College of New York and New York University also organized demonstrations and encampments.

Fordham Faculty for Justice in Palestine also issued a statement on April 25, declaring “solidarity with students and faculty at universities nationwide who are peacefully demonstrating and advocating for justice in Palestine and the human rights of Palestinians.” 

Over 100 faculty members have co-signed the statement in support of free speech and public assembly on campus. The signatories come as over 800 arrests have been made nationwide as student-led protests face an intense police response.

One of the primary demands of pro-Palestinian advocates are boycotts and divestments from companies with affiliations to Israel’s war in Gaza. In 1988, over 155 universities in the U.S. had partially or fully divested from companies with ties to apartheid in South Africa after a similar wave of anti-war protests on campuses.

“We’re not going to go into details about our portfolio nor specific industries.” Bob Howe, associate vice president for communications

In response to an inquiry on the university’s investments, Bob Howe, associate vice president for communications, said Fordham does not have investments in any of the 97 businesses identified by the United Nations Human Rights Council involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory in June 2023. 

In its 2022 tax filings, Fordham reported more than $159 million in publicly traded stock assets — however the majority of the university’s securities are not publicly disclosed.

“We’re not going to go into details about our portfolio nor specific industries,” Howe said. 

Flyers distributed at the demonstration pointed to publicly disclosed allocations of more than $2 million of Fordham’s endowment through the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF), which is operated by 24 Gabelli School of Business upperclassmen. A SMIF performance review from Dec. 2023 revealed investments in defense contractors Northrop Grumman and Huntington Ingalls, who supply military hardware to the Israeli military.  

Johnny Sullivan, FCLC ’27, has attended demonstrations across the city and was present at the rally organized by Fordham SJP. He stated their hope to see Fordham’s financial disclosures and SJP’s reinstatement as an official club on campus. 

“Many of these rallies could’ve been avoided if universities provided financial transparency, these protests and rallies have to happen because we don’t know where our money’s going,” they said. 

The rally concluded at around 1:30 p.m. EST. 

Avery Loftis and Sam Bracy contributed additional reporting to this story.

 UPDATE: This piece has been updated to reflect what was published in the print version of the Observer as of May 3.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly noted Julie Norris’ graduation year as 2018 instead of 2019. The article has been updated to reflect the correct year. 

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About the Contributors
INSIYA GANDHI, Former News Editor
Insiya Gandhi (she/her), FCLC ’24, is a former news editor at The Observer. She is a sociology major and a political science minor. Her most fulfilling moments at The Observer have been developing and strengthening relationships with fellow editors and writers. In her spare time, she can be found chatting, walking (aimlessly but briskly), listening to Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” and raiding her mom’s closet.
ALEXA VILLATORO, Former News Editor
Alexa Villatoro (she/her), FCLC ’24, is former news editor at The Observer. She was formerly a social media editor. She is an international studies major interested in how journalism connects and educates communities. Hailing from Seattle, she loves strolls in the rain to carefully curated Spotify playlists. If you can’t reach her, it’s because she is either napping, immersed in the morning news or spending time with family.

Comments (1)

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    Sarah JeanApr 29, 2024 at 10:54 am

    This makes me so proud to be a Fordham alum. Thank you, brave students and faculty, for speaking out. Don’t let up.