Coalition for Palestine organizes student walkout following Columbia University arrests

Undergraduate and graduate student voice solidarity with the arrested Columbia students

Editor’s note: Ellie Montemayor ’26, one of the students described in the article, is a publisher of The Tech. She was not involved in the publication of this article.

On April 19, the Coalition for Palestine (C4P) organized a student walkout in solidarity with the 108 Columbia University students that were arrested on April 19 for an encampment protesting the Israel-Palestine conflict. The walkouts began at 11:15 a.m. from 32-123 and 10-250, alongside a campus-wide call made on social media, and culminated at 12:30 p.m. on the steps to the Stratton Student Center. 

“Over the last six months, we have witnessed the genocide of the Palestinian people and have seen MIT’s complicity exposed,” Kirmina Monir ’24 stated in room 32-123. “Today, we join schools in the Boston area in walking out of class in solidarity with Palestine and our fellow students at Columbia who are facing harsh repression, including the brutal arrest of over 100 students, for standing with Palestine.” A similar speech was made in room 10-250 by Ellie Montemayor ’26. Organizers from both classrooms led supporters across campus towards the Student Center.

The walkout featured speeches from four student activists — Dan Zeno G, Kathleen Julca ’25, Aaliya Hussain ’25, and Mohamed Mohamed G.

At the Student Center, Dan Zeno G, a member of the MIT Graduates For Palestine (G4P) began a speech describing his background as his past service as a United States Air Force captain, and his present effort in “fighting with the resistance.”

“No force inspires more awe in the blood-soaked imperial age than a people united than a people united to break their chains,” Zeno began, eliciting applause. Zeno also spoke about the tens of thousands of Palestinian casualties since Oct. 7, and how “entire city blocks [have been] reduced to rubble by U.S.-made bombs.” 

Kathleen Julca ’25, a member of Globally Indigenous Students for Justice, posed “What will we tell our children? Will we tell them we stood by because it was too complicated? Will we tell them we did nothing because we want it to be peaceful, or will we tell them that we organized for our fellow protesters?”

Aaliya Hussain ’25, of MIT Divest, called the walkout “an expression of a shared humanity,” and that protesting is a “way of expressing our creed.”

“Protests by the encampment of Columbia, and the countless protests against the genocide have rocked the world,” Aaliya declared. “They honor what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. calls are ‘inescapable networks of mutuality,’ whereby we all share in a mutual garment of destiny.”

Hussain asserted that “the right to freely express ourselves is under attack.” These attacks manifest as “the persecution of student organizers for Palestine,” alluding to the events at Columbia.

“We stand strong against repressive administrations; Columbia has reignited all of us,” Mohamed Mohamed G, a C4P organizer said. “When the Columbia students were suspended, when they were attacked by the police, when they were attacked by their own administration — in Congress and on campus — they never backed down.”

Mohamed urged the crowd to tell the MIT administration that “[they] won’t back down” and that “[they] have a greater cause.” 

Speaking to The Tech, Isa Liggans ’25, a member of C4P, stated that he was not afraid to participate in the student walkout, regardless of the current atmosphere surrounding pro-Palestine demonstrations.

“You know you’re doing something right,” Liggans said. “I’m Muslim, and for me, I don’t have anything to be afraid of, as long as I know I’m keeping my way. Even when it comes to arrests or someone going to attack us. At least for us, nothing like that has really happened — nothing to the extreme of Columbia is happening here.”

Liggans said that he will not prevent himself from doing “something that’s good” just because he fears the repercussions of it. “[Consequences from administration] doesn’t make us afraid,” Liggans said.