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DEIC calls for awareness, education regarding Israel-Palestine conflict

MOORHEAD –  The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission (DEIC)  sponsored a “Peace-Walk for Palestine” on Tuesday, Oct. 17  

When the Israeli–Palestinian war broke out, DEIC heard concerns from students about how no one on campus was talking about it, said DEIC Belonging Commissioner Siam Shimul.  

Shimul along with Alissa Edjacin, the education comissioner, worked with their advisor, Assistant Director of Student Engagement Elijah Amelse, to give students a platform to voice their concerns.  

“We hosted a space which was named Israel Palestine Conversation in the Idea Lounge. That’s where it all started,” Shimul said.  

The “Israel Palestine Conversation” took place on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Students were encouraged to share, listen to each other and acknowledge each other’s feelings and emotions, Shimul said. 

Most of the people that showed up to the conversation expressed concerns about Concordia being silent, as well as not feeling heard on campus, Shimul said.  

“From there students took initiative to create awareness and educate people around campus. We came to a conclusion in that discussion that there is a lack of resources in educating people around these topics.” Shimul said.  

Students gathered in Knutson Campus Center prior to the demonstration. Paige Naughton/The Concordian

A group, “Free Palestine” was created with the goal of creating awareness and spreading educational materials, and addressing the college’s silence on the matter.   

Over the weekend of Oct. 14 to 15 Shimul worked with Edjacin, lead DEIC commissioner Fanan Nizam, and staff from the Office of Student Engagement to plan the “Peace-Walk for Palestine”. 

“We came up with all the ground rules, the planning process, the execution, and everything regarding this thing and how we can move forward in a constructive and educational way rather than pointing at eachother,” Shimul said.  

DEIC had three objectives going into the march: acknowledgement, education and diversity equity and inclusion work, Shimul said.  

The demonstration was very successful, according to Shimul. Between 150 to 200 people were present, coming and going throught the walk, Shimul said.  

After the walk, the demonstrators gathered around Lorentzsen hall to hear from the DEIC commissioners and other students who were present at the demonstration but not directly affiliated with DEIC.  

Attendees both students and faculty alike stood listening and cheering. The audience seemed receptive to DEIC’s message, as well as messages from students who were not representing DEIC.  

Students marching during the demonstration.
Paige Naughton/The Concordian

One student who spoke, Sabriya Siddiqui, expressed feelings of discontent at how the college and President Colin Irvine have not addressed the Israeli–Palestinian war.  

Students who spoke at the demonstration spoke freely, as DEIC did not want to censor them, Shimul said. However, students personal statements were not a part of DEIC’s message or objectives.   

“This demonstration was not, and is still not meant to be pointing at people and targeting individuals in the college or outside the college. Rather, it was to address that people are quiet. Education needs to be introduced. Awareness needs to be created,” Shimul said.   

The DEIC commissioners invited Irvine to the demonstration and asked him to participate in whatever capacity he could, Shimul said.  

Irvine was present at the demonstration, but he remained off to the side with other faculty members. 

“Concordia College supports students who wish to have their views heard in a peaceful manner, and it seeks to bring people of different backgrounds together in open and thoughtful dialogue,” Irvine said in an email statement to The Concordian. “I am thus grateful that the students at Tuesday’s event expressed their views in ways that were in keeping with our expressed guidelines.” 

Irvine said he is working with the Office of Faith and Learning to provide additional and instructive academic options for continued dialouge, with a focus of listening, learning and engaging in thoughtful and informed discussions.  

The first of these options will take place shortly after the fall break, Irvine said.  

DEIC is also in the process of continuing their work.Their next action item is to focus on creating space for discussions, namely the classroom.  

These conversations can get tense, which is why having them in the controlled environment of the classroom is one of DEIC’s goals, Shimul said. 

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