Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > News

St. John’s Community Joins the Global Student-Led Protests 

Updated Published
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. John's chapter.

QUEENS, NY –  On Thursday, April 25 in the D’Angelo Center (DAC) at St. John’s University, a demonstration in solidarity with Palestine began on campus. 

The SJU Palestinian Solidarity Committee (@SJUPSC) organized this demonstration against Starbucks and Burger King on campus. The two chains have acted against Palestine and its people. Last October, Starbucks busted their worker’s union for showing support for Palestine. They went as far as to sue their workers for their show of solidarity. Burger King gave free meals to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) overseas, and there is still a Burger King branch in Israel. The chains have shown support for the Israeli military and suppressed support for Palestinians. 

SJUPSC decided to take action and join along with students in schools like Columbia and NYU.

Students and faculty began their demonstration in the Starbucks located in DAC under the watchful eye of Public Safety. Protestors branded signs with statements like “Fund People’s Needs, not War Machines” and “Boycott for Palestine.” Representatives gave out clipboards to students and faculty in the area, encouraging them to sign pledges to boycott both restaurants on campus. 

SJUPSC’s media representative, Sabrina Sarwar professed that this demonstration was meant to demand action from the university. “Our Catholic institution is built on Vincentian values. We call on St. John’s to pledge to boycott these companies.” The Vincentian values mean action against violence and service for others.

Sarwar further explained that she does not fear backlash. “Compared to what you see in Palestine, these children, women, and men who are openly journalists, they’re risking their lives and their homes to show what is going on in Palestine, so why should we hide our faces?”  

Later in the demonstration, protestors proceeded to a classroom where Rohaan Gill, a nurse in Gaza, led a discussion. Gill described his experiences in Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, “Everywhere was the ICU. Most injuries are children, and children make up 50% of Gaza’s population.” 

The demonstrators then left DAC while chanting “Free, Free Palestine,” among many others advocating for an unoccupied Palestine. Next, the protestors entered the Marillac food court and gathered before the Burger King. The demonstrators chanted and walked around the cafeteria, getting students to sign the pledges. Some more students joined in from the cafeteria. 

Then, the protestors moved toward the front of St. Augustine Hall as a demonstration leader who chose to remain anonymous spoke about the violence in Gaza. “There are 40,000 people dead and over 100 journalists dead. As a journalist, that hurts me”. The speaker explained that the PSC began this protest to stop the school from funding these deaths by providing revenue to backers of the IDF and suppressors of solidarity. 

The students and faculty cheered and were enthused by her speech. The faculty were proud to be there and show their support. Dohra Amad, a professor from the English department said, “We’ve all seen what is going on at other campuses. It’s really important that these are student-driven movements. What some of the professors have been able to offer, here and elsewhere, institutional memory and institutional support.” 

The protestors migrated towards the Law School with law students in the crowd. One law student, who was expressing solidarity as a Latina said, “We’re in a position of privilege, like I’m a first-generation student and I grew up with poverty, I relate to the struggle of Palestine, I see things mirrored to the way I grew up.” 

In the migration, they chanted, “Disclose, divest. We will not stop. We will not rest”. When they entered the Law School cafeteria, they gathered in front of the Starbucks and made a speech calling for the students in the cafeteria to stop supporting the company. Representatives went around with the pledges. 

There was some backlash, with some students in the cafeteria recording the protestors and heckling. The protestors paid very little mind and continued onwards. 

Once the PSC got more signatures at the Law School, they moved back to the Great Lawn chanting, “St John’s has not said a word, so we will make our voices heard.” Once again asking for action by the school. 

Raj Chetty, a professor in the English department said, “I’m trying to follow the powerful stuff that the students are doing and add my presence.” 

SJUPSC received 310 signatures in their pledges, which they gave to the managers of Burger King and Starbucks. They had also scheduled a meeting with the Board of Trustees at the school to discuss their reasoning and get the restaurants off campus. The club is considering taking future action another time.

Caitlyn Oviedo

St. John's '25

Hi, I'm Caitlyn! I'm a junior journalism student at St. John's University. I am passionate about women's rights and intersectionality. My hobbies include reading, writing, and watching a lot of tv.