The Executive Editors and News Editors of The Olaf Messenger decided to dedicate this week’s news section to coverage of community reaction to the Israel-Hamas War. Our coverage’s aim is not to explain the Israel-Hamas War in detail, but to recount reactions and events in our community. Our objective is to provide unbiased reporting that accurately reflects thoughts and opinions of various members and organizations of our community, its also important to note that St. Olaf responses have predominantly supported Palestine. We acknowledge that there are many different perspectives on the conflict, as our community is made up of a diverse group of individuals. The Olaf Messenger extends our condolences to those who are directly affected by these recent events. Campus resources and information about bias reporting can be found here.
Protestors met President Biden at his visit to Dawn Creek Farms in Northfield on Nov. 1. The visit to the pig farm began Biden’s tour of rural America to discuss federal farm subsidies in the lead-up to the 2024 Presidential Election. He briefly addressed the protestors at the beginning of the event, reiterating the tragic loss of life in Gaza and Israel’s right to defend itself. As the president spoke about investing in rural America, protesters urged him to support a ceasefire in Gaza.
Details of the protest were not discussed much prior to the event in an effort to prevent the Biden administration from canceling the visit. Augustus Lehn ’26 emailed The Olaf Messenger describing their protesting experience.
“At the protest, we chanted things like ‘Free Palestine’, ‘Ceasefire now’, ‘Free Free Gaza’, and my personal favorite, ‘Hey, Biden, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!’” said Lehn in an email to The Olaf Messenger. “A few other St. Olaf students attended, and a lot of Carls were there.” They said that Carleton College’s Students for Justice in Palestine were the majority of protestors.
The Northfield event maintained a distance between protestors and the president. “We actually weren’t allowed past certain points,” said Lehn in an interview with The Olaf Messenger. “At the first protest location, we were maybe a tenth of a mile away from the farm and there was a police blockade with multiple sheriffs stopping us from going any further. Same thing with the second location we went to. We never actually saw Biden in person, at least not in Northfield.”
While Biden was the ultimate audience for the protestors, people driving by the protest engaged with them the most. Speaking on the response of the community to the protest, Lehn said in an email to The Olaf Messenger, “One man yelled, ‘Annihilate them!’ and another group called, ‘F*** you, go Israel! … The amount of positive responses we got, like honking and people in their cars actually shouting with us, outnumbered the few.’”
Biden’s visit to Minnesota also included a Minneapolis fundraiser where audience members called for a ceasefire.