American universities have become battlegrounds.

Thousands of college students have been arrested, censored and subjected to police brutality, all for demanding justice for Palestine. 

Meanwhile, there is a deafening silence at NC State University.

The Israeli Defense Forces have killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, 2023. Thousands more have been injured and forced to flee as hospitals, universities and residential neighborhoods have been indiscriminately bombed by Israel. 

Israel is now invading and bombarding Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, where an estimated 1.4 million people are sheltering, half of them being children.

Yet, NC State and a majority of its student body has remained disturbingly quiet in the face of such unspeakable oppression. 

As we watch college campuses erupt in protest against the Israel-led genocide, we must ask ourselves: Why not us? For Palestine.

NC State has clung to the excuse of “institutional neutrality,” mandated by NC House of Representatives’ Senate Bill 195. The bill states North Carolina campuses are prohibited from taking official positions on political controversies. 

However, Senate Bill 195 does not silence the student body. 

Last month, UNC Charlotte’s Student Government boldly passed a resolution, a governmental body’s official expression of opinion, that condemned Israel’s “war” as genocide and called for institutional divestment.

When a similar resolution surfaced at NC State’s Student Government, the university and several Student Government (SG) members deployed underhanded manipulation tactics, such as secret meetings and bureaucratic obstructionism.

On Monday, April 15, corresponding sponsor and student Senator Naila Din submitted Resolution 29 (R 29), entitled “An act to promote peace and human rights by advocating for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, condemning hate speech, and enhancing educational resources on Palestine and Israel,” to the Student Senate (SS). 

Din, a second-year studying Microbiology, also sent SS a formal notification of intent to fast-track the resolution. If fast-tracked, the resolution would then bypass committee review and potentially pass the same day as its first reading. It is a common practice in SG to fast-track legislation for swifter passage.

However, an uncommon SG practice is holding secret meetings to persuade senators to vote according to the university’s wishes. 

Yet, that’s exactly what happened the day after R 29 was submitted. As reported by Technician, an undisclosed meeting was held on Tuesday by SS Pro Tempore President Taquan Dewberry, a first-year student studying Computer science and philosophy.

Although the meeting was allegedly open to all, only 22 SG senatorsincluding Dewberry— were invited. 

Dewberry claimed the purpose of the meeting was to educate new senators about their rights to fast-track and to consider motions en bloc, but then repeatedly urged those present to vote against R 29.

During the meeting, he stated, “I’m not telling you how to vote on this piece of legislation. I’m just saying it’s a lot safer for everyone in Student Senate if this conversation is held back until August.”

Jon Carter, a first-year studying Accounting and Student Senate Secretary, also told new senators, “I know that the people who will get up there and speak will be very emotionally charged and what they say will probably be very well worded, but I don’t think that detracts from the fact this is not the appropriate time or place right now to consider all of this.”

Acting on behalf of NC State University and SG’s Student Body Officers (SBOs), Dewberry and Carter pressed for prolonged committee review. They knew that if the resolution was not fast-tracked, it would be tabled until August when the Student Senate resumes its session.

Dewberry also stated, “The only thing the university has advised us to do is to not pass this bill.”

It should be noted Dewberry’s “us” refers to NC State’s Student Government; more specifically, the SBOs which includes Student Body President Allison Markert, Student Body Vice President Isaac Carreno and Student Senate President Caroline Miranda. Miranda was aware of the undisclosed meeting taking place on Tuesday night.

After learning about the undisclosed meeting, Senator Naila Din and Jamal Mohamad, a fourth-year studying Business administration and a signatory of R 29, both attended. Subsequently, Carter invited Miranda on a call in case the situation escalated.

Dewberry, Carter and the Student Body Officers, quickly became embroiled in controversy over the undisclosed meeting.

Meanwhile, the university has somehow skirted the blame for meddling in the affairs of Student Government: a student-run organization that allegedly serves as the official voice of the student body. However, in the case of R 29, it was ultimately the administration’s voice that prevailed.

On Wednesday, a day after the undisclosed meeting, Student Senate failed to fast-track Resolution 29. 

For many students, the decision came as a gut punch. R 29 received over thirty student organizations as signatories, meaning hundreds of students had agreed the resolution was imperative. 

After the Senate failed to fast-track R 29, turmoil ensued as students protested the decision and stormed out of the Student Senate meeting. Among the protesters was Jamal Mohamad, a signatory of R 29 and the president of the Arab Student Organization. Mohamad vocally blamed the university and the SG members who held the secret meeting for Student Senate’s failure to fast-track Resolution 29.

“The whole process felt dehumanizing…they chalked the whole legislation because they want to go behind people’s backs and fearmonger,” said Mohamad in an interview with Nubian Message. “Student Government is the university’s mouthpiece.”

As Dewberry stated, it was in fact the university who advised SG to not pass the ceasefire legislation. 

Though NC State University likely hoped to avoid “political” controversy, the perceived failure of R 29 has fueled infighting within the student body over the administration’s choices.

On April 24, NC State’s SBOs released a statement addressing the backlash SG members have received. “Since Wednesday night’s meeting, Student Body Officers, Senators, and Government Officials have received verbal and online harassment, bullying, and threats.”

The university exploited its influence over SG members and effectively turned those same students into their socio-political puppets. These students are now left in harm’s way due to NC State’s actions. The growing tension between the Student Government and student organizations stems directly from the university’s silence on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

While publicly pursuing political “neutrality,” NC State has participated in partisan bureaucratic obstructionism behind the scenes. In doing so, the university has failed to educate, empower and facilitate common ground among its students. Both NC State and its Student Government have acted based on a desire for self-preservation, rather than human rights principles.

Several SG members have defended themselves by claiming that if the resolution had passed, NC State would have pulled appropriations from Student Government and separated itself from the organization. However, these claims are speculative and lack evidence. Despite this, SG members used this argument to justify their corrupt behavior and to persuade others to vote against R 29.

Sounds like fear-mongering if you ask me.

NC State University has hit an impasse as neither the university nor the Student Government will take a stand against the continuous bombardment of Gaza. 

Why is NC State turning a blind eye to this human rights crisis? Where is our outrage? Where is our solidarity? And, where is NC State’s demand for universal human rights? 

As students, we need to ask ourselves, “Why not us?” Why aren’t we raising our voices against the genocide unfolding in Gaza?

With student protests growing across the nation, NC State and its student body risk being on the wrong side of history.

Since neither the university nor Student Government will act, it falls upon us students to speak up and demand justice. We must break the silence.