Columns / Discourse / February 12, 2014

A Palestinian experience on college campuses

You wake up one Sunday morning and you find a peculiar letter that has been shoved under your door. You then reach to see what it states and you see EVICTION.

These notices which declare that dormitories around campus are to be destroyed in a couple of hours have been creating large controversy on campuses such as Northwestern University, Michigan, Florida State, Rutgers and Harvard.

When reading the notice further, there is a fine-tuned summary of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict underneath. Detailing the horrid events that have occurred in Palestine, the eviction notice is clearly political propaganda to show college students the side of the conflict which may not be shown throughout American media outlets on a day to day basis.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report, at least 5,848 individuals have been killed during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 4,228 of those individuals have been Palestinian. Palestinians have been pushed from their land since 1917 and have been unable to return home, visit families, get a decent job or escape the war. Israeli forces have denied the Palestinian people the right to life and sovereignty, which is not only an international law, but is also a basic, fundamental human right.

So, if someone stuck an eviction notice under your door stating that you had a couple of hours to leave your home and all your belongings until it would all be completely demolished, how would you feel? Angry, sad, uncomfortable and helpless come to my mind.

And that’s the point of these eviction notices. The eviction notices put up at college campuses throughout the country are not actual notices; instead they create a simulation that allows a typical college student to begin to feel how a Palestinian civilian feels day to day, pushed around and unable to settle in their homes for fear of it being taken right back from them. In many instances, Palestinian homes have been taken from them in order to build other structures or to serve as homes for Israelis that have moved in and created large settlements in what was once Palestinian territory.

While mock eviction notices have not been seen on Knox College, the power behind these eviction notices is truly influential. Not only do they detail a summary of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the notices also place a college student in the shoes of a Palestinian in which these eviction notices are inherent, threatening and present in their real lives.

Controversy has been stirred throughout these college campuses as school administration attempt to dissuade the use of these notices, while also keeping the campus open to different opinions and free discourse. Many students have felt that the notices infringe on their privacy and have disapproved of the actions that have been carried out either anonymously or by Palestinian-supporting student groups on campus.  Many also feel that the information is incredibly biased and presents the conflict in a one-sided way. However, those supportive of the notices believe that the creativity and thought-provoking nature of the eviction notices would stir some sympathy and understanding for the Palestinian cause.

If I were to wake up one morning and find a letter stating that Williston Hall would be demolished in less than 10 hours, destroying my home and all of my belongings and forcing me out in the cold I would be livid, but also helpless. That’s the point of these eviction notices that have been put up across college campuses. They are creepy, but they are hardly encroaching on the privacy of students. The eviction notices are simply attempting to allow an everyday college student to be placed into a situation that Palestinians have been forced into daily. The notices are not anti-Semitic or a personal attack on any group or body. In fact, they have only encouraged thought-provoking discussion throughout campuses around America.

 While these notices have not been seen at Knox College, the experience itself would be eye-opening for all. I do not encourage these notices to be put up in dorms around campus; however, I do believe that by just reading about the issue, Knox students will be able to understand the Palestinian side of the conflict in greater detail than that which is portrayed by American media.

Hiba Ahmed

Tags:  American media campus eviction human rights Israel Israeli-Palestinian Knox College notice Palestine rights violation williston hall

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