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Connecticut College protests take different tone compared to 2023 demonstrations

Eddy Martinez
Connecticut College
Connecticut College students hold a pro- Palestinian rally outside Fanning Hall, which they occupied in 2023 to speak out against then President Katherine Bergeron.

Students at Connecticut College occupied a building on the New London school's campus for days in 2023, demonstrating against the school administration. But student protesters this year have remained relatively quiet as some other schools carried out more boisterous pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Students wanted to rally before the end of the semester, according to Abby Dawson, a junior.

“We have to speak out and do something while we have the time while we're still here on campus,” Dawson said.

Students at the school held the pro-Palestinian rally outside Fanning Hall, which they occupied in 2023 to speak out against then President Katherine Bergeron.

The most recent protest outside Fanning Hall was to call on the school to acknowledge the war in Gaza as a genocide, protect free speech on campus and divest from companies with Israeli ties, according to students.

While they say the school has been more communicative, some of their concerns echo earlier criticisms about the school’s lack of consideration for students of color.

While they’re protesting for Palestinians, they’re also taking a different approach due to the end of the academic year, and the relative isolation of their campus.

Unlike 2023, no one is barricading themselves or, now, setting up tents on the lawn at campus.

Several students who spoke to Connecticut Public said the end of the semester and the relative isolation of the school would have made it a challenge to set up an encampment.

Connecticut College did not respond to a request for comment.

Dawson said the school’s relatively small size also influenced their decision.

“Though they have been effective at other schools, just with the scale of the school and how small it is, we wouldn't be able to have an effective encampment with the low numbers that we have,” Dawson said.

The rally started at around 4:00 p.m Tuesday and made its way to Fanning Hall, with students holding up a banner in front of the building reading “ConnColl stands with Palestine.”

Unlike 2023, when the school administration at first pushed back on demands for former school president Katherine Bergeron to resign, the school has worked with students on the rally. Students said the school is making an effort to mend their relations with the student body after last year’s protests.

But according to one student who declined to give her full name, there’s still some work that needs to be done, including making the curriculum less Eurocentric and adding courses on Arab and Middle Eastern studies.

Emily Nelson, a junior, said there is another difference.

“In order to prepare for this, we had a lot of communication with the administration to make sure everything was going to run safely,” Nelson said.

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