Intimidation and doxxing of pro-Palestinian supporters on college campuses | The Triangle

Intimidation and doxxing of pro-Palestinian supporters on college campuses

“From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.”

This chant was echoed in front of the Dragon statue at Drexel University on Nov. 17 by an estimated 50 people in an effort to raise awareness regarding the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine.

A student solidarity walkout occurred on campus, consisting of participants from organizations such as Drexel Students for Justice in Palestine and Penn Students Against the Occupation of Palestine. Organizations partook in the Shut It Down movement created by grassroots organizations such as the National Students for Justice in Palestine and the Palestinian Youth Movement. Attendance consisted of a diverse array of students, professors, and faculty, standing shoulder to shoulder, coming together for one purpose, to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. The atmosphere was charged with emotion and a sense of urgency as unified voices chanting phrases such as “1, 2, 3, 4, Occupation No More,” reflecting the protesters’ demand for a free Palestine. Signs and banners among the sea of people stood tall, with messages such as “Ceasefire Now,” and “Protect Academic Freedom” on posters as individuals rallied in solidarity.

The rally was aimed to address and speak out against the growing issue of doxxing and intimidation of student organizers that has recently been occurring on college campuses across the U.S. 

Students and faculty of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania gathered to express their concern for the ongoing increase of intimidation and doxxing tactics, such as blacklisting. The rally consisted of three speakers, including speakers from UPenn, a grad student at Drexel, and a Drexel Professor.

A speaker from UPenn attempted to empower the crowd, and encourage a mindset of strength and unity. The speaker communicated this by saying, “… their intimidation only works if we are intimidated by it. There are decades of student organizers that have come before us and millions of student organizers that we stand with now, and we will continue speaking out as long as it’s going on.”

“Doxxing is not a new tactic. Leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Junior were doxxed and experienced incredible government surveillance,” stated another speaker at the protest. 

The speaker continued to list college campuses in the U.S. where anti-Palestinian acts have taken place to silence student voices. On Nov. 10, Columbia University suspended the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) campus organizations for the entirety of their fall semester. This occurred after hundreds of Columbia students participated in a campus-wide walkout calling for a cease-fire, hosted by the two groups the day before. 

“I am scared for the safety of my friends and myself only because we are speaking out against the genocide,” claimed a speaker concerned about doxxing.

“Shame!” the crowd responded.

Following the last speaker, protesters marched in unison to City Hall to join a  larger-scale pro-Palestinian protest. 

In an interview with The Triangle, a third-year Palestinian-American student at Drexel, who asked to remain anonymous due to the potential risk of facing consequences, expressed their concerns about being Muslim and Palestinian on campus recently.

“I am scared, and frightened while being on campus as a visible Muslim. Being able to be identified in a crowd, or even walking alone is terrifying, just having to think that I will be the next victim, the next person to be attacked, judged, and mistreated for being who I am. Knowing that I am a visible Muslim puts not only me but also my career at risk. Knowing that some companies won’t hire me for what I believe in is unjust and unfair and knowing that I cannot change that makes me feel helpless, and also makes me lose motivation in trying to achieve all the goals that I have set for myself.”

When asked how they felt about the intimidation tactics that are being used on students who voice their opinions, they responded, 

“I am only in the design industry, so I stand by my work, and I stand for who I am. However, I do have anxiety about where my career is going to head not knowing if certain companies will accept me, not knowing if I’ll even make it being a designer because of who I am even though I am standing for what is right. But those who have to work for larger companies like working in the Medical field, are at a super high risk. I’ve spoken to at least three people who had to disassociate from who they are just so they can continue their studies. I know someone personally who’s in their third year of residency and hasn’t been able to speak up about what’s going on in Palestine, although he was born and raised there, in fear of being fired because someone they know already has been.”

College campuses should be safe spaces for students of all races, ethnicities, and religions to voice their opinions. Students have a right to use their voices without the fear of being reprimanded or silenced for their beliefs. 

At the Vigil for Palestine that was hosted by the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) club on Nov. 9, a student claimed, “I attended the vigil with my friends, and in the middle of a speech this other student walked up to us, pulled out his phone to record us, and then proceeded to leave.” 

Capturing and filming individuals is a known doxxing and intimidation tactic that is being used on pro-Palestinian students. By exposing their identities and political affiliations, it can be used as a weapon against students to threaten them, potentially compromising their academic and professional aspirations. 

It is the duty of colleges to protect their student’s privacy and eliminate any prejudices that may harm a student. Drexel’s co-op interview selection process is the reason for many students’ silence on sensitive issues. Students fear that there may be biases towards certain applicants due to their political beliefs. This fear must be eradicated. Drexel must foster an inclusive and unbiased environment that allows students to openly discuss their stance on issues without fear of repercussions. 

As members of the new generation, college students have a right and responsibility to speak on events that will shape their futures. Therefore, it is imperative that they use their voices, advocate for their beliefs, and never remain silent.