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JMU students join nationwide campus protests against war in Gaza

JMU students have gathered on the quad for a peaceful
Randi B. Hagi
JMU students gathered on the quad on Wednesday to call for financial transparency and divestment from companies and government agencies participating in and benefiting from the war.

Students at James Madison University have joined protests against the war in Gaza taking place on college campuses across the country. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

[students chanting]

About 50 students were gathered on the JMU quad at noon on Wednesday. They painted signs and read a list of demands, calling for transparency about JMU's financial investments.

CROWD: Divestment from all Israeli companies –

STUDENT: … and weapons manufacturers.

CROWD: … and weapons manufacturers.

In light of the military aid the U.S. provides to Israel, students also took issue with the university's research and scholarship partnerships with the U.S. Department of Defense and companies such as Northrop Grumman.

Kin, a junior who declined to give their last name, said the protestors also demand –

KIN: Amnesty for students engaging in political protest on campus, and the release of a statement condemning the Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Recent protest encampments at other colleges such as UCLA, Columbia, and Virginia Tech have ended in clashes with counter-protestors and arrests. The JMU students intend to gather each day, and not camp out overnight.

KIN: JMU said no tents and they said no megaphones, and we are abiding by JMU's rules, because we want this to be safe for everyone involved.

In response to a request for comment, JMU sent us a statement which read, in part, "as a public institution, we support the freedom of expression and civil discourse within the boundaries of the Constitution and consistent with university policies and the Code of Virginia."

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's ongoing retaliation for the October 7th Hamas attacks, but the collapse of civilian infrastructure has left Gaza's health authorities unable to count all the dead.

Full disclosure – WMRA's operating license is held by JMU's board of visitors, and JMU underwrites programming on WMRA.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.