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Yale University students share mixed views on campus protests

Angel Nwadibia (center) walks around a circle of protesters, handing her megaphone to people to continue a chant in support of Gaza on April 22, 2024. Protesters throughout the morning filled the streets of downtown New Haven with chants such as “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has go to go" and “Disclose, divest. We will not stop, we will not rest.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Angel Nwadibia (center) walks around a circle of protesters, handing her megaphone to people to continue a chant in support of Gaza on April 22, 2024. Protesters throughout the morning filled the streets of downtown New Haven with chants such as “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has go to go" and “Disclose, divest. We will not stop, we will not rest.”

The pro-Palestinian demonstrations at Yale University have ebbed for the time being, as students prepared for their final exams. But for some, like Lyle Griggs, who’ve been at some protests, they’re working through what they saw, including the surrealism of seeing intra-student disputes suddenly gaining national attention.

“There's a student here as a sophomore who claimed to have been stabbed in the eye,” Griggs said. "I know this person; people here know this person. That did not happen the way that it was reported — the way that it was credulously reported — by the national media.”

Griggs said he’s politically moderate, but supports his classmates protesting in support of Palestinians as the war in Gaza continues.

But unlike some of his classmates, he did not participate during the latest protest outside the home of Yale President Peter Salovey. Griggs, like others, watched live on social media as local police arrested protesters.

He has his own reservations with some of the rhetoric, but has pushed back on criticisms of the protests overall.

Yale freshman Zachary Suri said the protests have become more antisemitic.

Suri walked by one of the first protests opposing Israeli military action in Gaza in late October, weeks after Hamas’ surprise attack in Israel on Oct. 7. He said not all protesters are antisemitic. But Suri, who is Jewish, said he feels there is a pressure to renounce Zionism.

“If you're a Jewish student, like myself, unless you're willing to denounce everything that has to do with Zionists from the State of Israel, you're not sort of accepting the movement," Suri said.

Suri also had issues with the feasibility of divesting from companies with Israeli ties to what he said is the self-centered nature of the protests, describing the students protesting as driven by guilt over their powerlessness.

He also said the police were forced to make arrests as the protesters were increasingly impacting campus life.

But Griggs doesn’t see it that way.

“All Yale had to do was wait one more week, and everyone would have gone home … and by making arrests last Monday, Yale really turned this into a much more difficult, disruptive and generally toxic situation,” Griggs said.

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