Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
The 19th annual Lighting of the Quads, organized by the Parents Fund and the Office of Leadership Engagement and Experiential Development, took place Tuesday evening on Dec. 5. This year, students gathered in the back of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library during the lighting of the fireworks in a silent demonstration supporting Palestinians in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The Hopkins Justice Collective organized the demonstration.
With 5,555 students registered on Campus Groups, Lighting of the Quads is one of the biggest student events during the semester and an iconic tradition on Homewood Campus. Hosting the demonstration during Lighting of the Quads was a purposeful choice, according to leaders of Hopkins Justice Collective in an interview with The News-Letter.
Students remained silent during this protest, in contrast with vocal demonstrations during previous protests. The demonstration was not necessarily meant to disrupt the annual event, but rather served as a reminder to the Hopkins community of the events still happening in Gaza, according to Kisa and Fatima, two of the student leaders of the demonstration using pseudonyms.
“We wanted to remind everyone, especially administration, that while we’re here, enjoying our time looking at fireworks, there are bombs dropping on innocent people, women and children, in Gaza, and that’s not something that we can turn a blind eye to,” Fatima said.
Daisy, a freshman participant in the demonstration who used a pseudonym, added to the importance of having a silent demonstration in an interview with The News-Letter.
“When we created this demonstration, especially a silent demonstration, we showed that words are not enough. You need action. I think that’s what the administration right now is lacking. They lack action,” she said. “We want to feel safe and express our opinions, but what about the actions of the University? Right now, they have to stand on the right side of history and cut out all deals with armed weapons and with the apartheid state of Israel.”
The demonstration included a group of students holding a large banner that said “JHU: DIVEST FROM GENOCIDE & APARTHEID! END WEAPONS INVESTMENTS” and individuals holding up flyers of the Palestinian flag with the words “Free Palestine” during the fireworks show. Members of the Hopkins Justice Collective passed out flyers to event attendees. A “Free Palestine” banner was also dropped from the fourth story of Remsen Hall.
Sophomore Marzi, going by a pseudonym, is an international student who partook in the demonstration by handing out flyers. In an interview with The News-Letter, she expressed her view on how students waste the privilege of being in a relatively safe space.
“It’s very hypocritical to enjoy that privilege that we get by being in such a community but not be able to stand up for what we believe in,” she said. “People dying is wrong. We’ve learned what a slaughter is. We’ve learned what a genocide is. We’re deliberately being blind if we don’t stand up [against] it.”
For Kisa, a successful demonstration is one where at least one person experiences a change of heart after seeing their efforts. While she expected attention, she did not imagine so many students holding up flyers and raising their cups of hot chocolate in solidarity.
“It also says a lot about the fact that we haven’t been able to get that feeling in any other place, whether it be online or in the classroom,” she said. “We’ve seen it just today how many people are really, really supportive of Palestine, running up here to stand with us. We are blown away by their support. It was amazing.”