FLASHBACK: Smith College students vowed to ‘occupy’ a school building ‘until Smith divests,’ but their protest lasted less than two weeks

Smith College students invaded a building on campus a few weeks before the current anti-Israel protests on the nation’s campuses.

The students stated that they ‘believe that disruption is necessary when injustice is occurring.’

Screenshot taken from Instagram account of Smith College's SJP.

Weeks before the anti-Israel protest at Columbia University resulted in similar protests breaking out throughout American campuses, students at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts took over the College Hall administrative building on their campus to protest the school’s investments in defense companies that have ties to the Jewish State, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported

The occupation of the building lasted almost two weeks, from March 27 to April 9, according to the Anti-Defamation League. 

Hundreds of protestors were involved in the demonstration, the Gazette reported. 

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The school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) posted Instagram images of sleeping spaces and stockpiled food in the building, claiming the demonstrators were “occupying College Hall until Smith divests.” 

A video from the group shows footage of the protest, with a caption claiming that a student protestor “was assaulted by a smith [sic] staff and almost pushed out of the window.”

In a letter to the school’s leadership, the SJP claimed: “There can be no status quo during genocide, at Smith College or anywhere. There is no disability justice, no equity and inclusion, no protection from legal discrimination, no class justice that can exist without a free Palestine.”

The letter also stated that the protestors “believe that disruption is necessary when injustice is occurring.”

The SJP claimed in an Instagram post to have met with college President Sarah Willie-LeBreton on March 30 but said that she did not promise an “[i]mmediate commitment to an emergency meeting or any form of divestment,” though she did make commitments to other measures, such as “[a]sking the chair of the Board of Trustees to have representatives meet with us,” according to the protestors. 

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Ruby Masters, an SJP member, said that school leaders decided that the group’s divestment demands “did not meet the threshold for taking action and also found that the endowment’s investment in military contractors and weapons manufacturers is negligible and entirely indirect,” according to an update from the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

It does not seem as though Smith College has made any concrete commitments to divest of its connections to Israel yet, and the school’s SJP protested again for divestment on April 21, according to Mass Live

Campus Reform has contacted Smith College for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.