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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Campus community responds to crisis


Students are expressing their discontent with how the University has addressed the conflict, regardless of where they stand on the issue. 

President Maurie McInnis has sent out three statements via email addressing the war, the first being sent on Oct. 9. 

The Stony Brook Jewish community reached out to McInnis to demand a better response because they felt the first one was “very neutral” and “not appropriate,” according to Harel. 

Stony Brook University officials sent a statement addressing the criticism in an email to The Statesman on Oct. 20, writing, “[McInnis] took the opportunity to provide additional clarity on her position and released a follow-up statement the next day explicitly condemning the violence against Israeli citizens. She noted that members of our community have roots in both the Israeli and Palestinian communities and expressed concern for the welfare of both communities and a wish for an end to the violence and suffering.”

In her second email, sent on Oct. 10, McInnis took the opportunity to clarify what she meant in her original statement. Although she acknowledges that “members of our community have roots in both the Israeli and Palestinian communities,” McInnis only addressed the violence occurring in Israel, not the violence in Gaza or against Palestinians. 

“But let there be no mistake – and I want to clarify any doubt that may have been left by my previous message – that whatever one’s position on the region’s longstanding conflict, there can be no justification for the horrific acts that have taken place in Israel,” McInnis wrote. “We must condemn, in the strongest terms, the acts of mass murder, the large-scale abductions and continued holding of hostages including children and the elderly, and other crimes committed.”

Just as students who stand with Israel feel unsupported by the University, pro-Palestine students feel disregarded by McInnis’ responses and actions as well. 

A student who attended the protest in support of Palestine on Oct. 22, and asked to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns, agreed that the University is not doing enough to support Palestinian students.

[Stony Brook] admin[istration] refuses to say something,” the protester said. “That means that they’re complicit with the suffering of Palestinians.”

Maurie McInnis, are you deaf? Condemn the crimes of the IDF. Maurie McInnis, where are you? Gaza is suffering too.”

— Protest chants

Unib Awan, a protest organizer and member of the Muslim Students Association, expressed the significance of gathering and protesting to The Statesman.

“They are trying to silence the voices of those who suffer in Gaza and we are their voice today. We will not be silenced,” Awan, a senior philosophy major, said. 

At a Nov. 9 protest, crowds verbalized their deep dissatisfaction with McInnis’ response to the crisis. Demonstrators chanted, “Maurie McInnis, where are you? Gaza is suffering too,” and, “Maurie McInnis, are you deaf? Condemn the crimes of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces].”

In an email to The Statesman, the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA) commented on the University’s weak response and lack of support for certain students. 

“The university has failed to acknowledge the brutal violence of the Palestinian people, and that must change,” the statement read.

Stony Brook students have been making their stances on the conflict clear over the past month through their demonstrations. Three student-led protests were held on campus in solidarity with Palestine and a vigil was held for the lives lost in Israel on Oct. 11. At a Hillel-hosted event on Nov. 9, a Nova Festival massacre survivor, Shye Klein, spoke to the attending audience.

Outside of Stony Brook, students are being incentivized to protest in support of Israel. The Israel on Campus Coalition offered a $250 grant to students to participate in a pro-Israel rally in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14. 

“We’re all just praying for peace and just hoping that there is an end to violence and an end to suffering,” Stony Brook Hillel Executive Director Jessica Lemons said. “I think that there’s something so innately human about recognizing suffering in one another, and if we choose to not recognize the suffering in one another, then I think we’re doing humanity a disservice.”

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