The College addressed the increased conflict in the Gaza Strip and continued escalation with Israeli attacks on the territory in an Oct. 18 email from the College Ministry office. Senior College Pastor Matthew Marohl, Director of the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community, Deanna Thompson ’89, Director of the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion Martin Olague ’04, and College President Susan Rundell Singer signed the email.
The email’s message focused on access to support, rather than a commentary on the events. The offices named above are connecting with students affected and hope other offices would follow suit. The email said, “We are reaching out this week with heavy hearts following ongoing acts of violence and atrocities around the world. We share your deep concern for the increasing loss of life for Israelis and Palestinians, from natural disasters around the globe, as well as from the continued conflicts in Armenia and Ukraine.”
To end the email, they reminded the St. Olaf Community to support each other during this time, saying, “We are here to support each other in trying times and in processing grievous events. Please do not hesitate to reach out for support — academic, mental health, spiritual — during this time.” Links to organizations to donate to, including Doctors without Borders, Red Cross, Save the Children, and Lutheran World Relief, were included after information regarding campus resources for student and employee mental health.
Across the St. Olaf community, students, faculty, and staff are responding with efforts to educate the community and support affected people.
The Armenian Student Association (ASA), Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE), and SouthWest Asia and North Africa student organization (SWANA) hosted a Togetherness Event on Oct. 19 on the Boe Chapel Steps. The event “A Vigil for Gaza” featured student speakers from the three organizations on the importance of solidarity with Gaza and Palestinians around the world. Palestinian students also spoke about their experiences, calling for students, faculty, and staff to engage in continued discussion.
In coordination with St. Olaf faculty, the Political Awareness Committee (PAC) held a teach-in entitled “Israel-Palestine: Behind the Crisis of Violence” on Oct. 24 in Tomson 280.
The Taylor Center holds a Community Through Writing Event each Wednesday, and in an email they added an opportunity for community members to write to their representative on Oct. 25.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a new student organization formed in response to recent events. SJP posted to their Instagram about a National Student Walkout and a list of demands, including “We call for answers to the quietness, and unchecked repression of our college administrators both quietly and publicly.”
CUBE, SWANNA, and Presente! the Latine student organization, held a teach-in on Oct. 25 in the Crossroads to distribute information on contacting state representatives, organizations to donate to, and a list of news sources to watch for live updates from Gaza.
The Olaf Messenger will continue to cover the St. Olaf community response to the conflict in Gaza. Follow the above-mentioned organizations for information about upcoming events and updates. Continue reporting to come after our scheduled satire issue, which will print on Nov. 2.