Hood College: Anti-genocide protests expose liberal admin’s racism

09 May 2024 572 hits

FREDERICK, MD— At Hood College, at least 50 students gathered at the campus’s chapel for a rally and march in solidarity with workers and families suffering from the U.S.-backed genocide in Gaza. This is the second student-led rally on campus this academic year—the first being on November 9th. Inspired by their experience at the first national solidarity rally in Washington, DC on November 4th, multiple students and leaders of student organizations coordinated in just five days the first student-led mass protest since 2018, which was when the administration approved a “No Hate at Hood” walkout.

Unlike the 2018 demonstration, the organizers did not get approval from the college. The rally provided students a way to express their rage at both the college administration and Joe Biden for their continuing support of genocide. The genocide in Gaza—just like in Congo, Myanmar, and Darfur—is part of ongoing attacks on the international working class due to inter-imperialist rivalry. The U.S. is desperate to maintain its imperial status against rival imperialists in China and Russia. As capitalism falls deeper into crisis, the ruling class turns to war and fascism to save their atrocious system. 

Students take the lead

November 9th of last year, between 60 and 80 students, professors, and community members walked out from class and work to denounce the Israeli government’s ongoing genocide of workers in Gaza. The student-led walkout came as part of a call for a national day of solidarity for workers whose lives have been destroyed by the fascist Zionist Israeli government, as well as the cowardly Hamas leaders. Our comrade worked with classmates to spread the word about this walkout, posting flyers around campus and online.

The fightback continues

One member of Progressive Labor Party and a student at the college helped to spread the word for the February rally and march. They coordinated a fiery music playlist of international and revolutionary music, created politically sharp posters with a classmate, and ensured the safety of the rally as students walked off campus into downtown Frederick. Our comrade, with three friends, distributed dozens of CHALLENGEs and flyers. 

In a display of classic Hood College hypocrisy, campus safety officials stopped short of the campus entrance. This left students at the mercy of potential racist attacks and local police officers who followed the march both in uniform and in unmarked cars to try and intimidate the march.

Students led rallying cries against President Andrea Chapdelaine, Genocide Joe Biden, and blood-soaked Benjamin Netanyahu. We chanted demands for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. This ruffled the feathers of the thinly veiled racists from both Hood College and Frederick.
Like the first rally, the energy was electrifying. Students’ frustration with, and disappointment in Chapdelaine’s refusal to acknowledge the genocide, sparked necessary discussions—the same discussions that the administration was all too eager to conduct in 2022 soon after the war in Ukraine began.

Our comrade spoke to the need for solidarity among all students and workers, more than what the pro-Palestine chants called for. Instead of arguing over choosing sides and who is more deserving of compassion, the comrade clearly stated that workers are more than their national borders and ethnic backgrounds. Capitalism needs racism and nationalism to keep workers divided and justify their imperialist wars and genocides.

Administration's racism exposed 

Since Hamas’s attack on workers in Israel and the government’s monstrous response, there have only been passive emails from Chapdelaine calling for peace, and a history lecture on Israel and Palestine since the early 20th century. Hood College, like many liberal arts campuses, regularly advertises itself as an inclusive, diverse community that celebrates open discourse and varied perspectives. Students and faculty who have been here for years know this is a bald-faced lie. Within two weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the administration held a pro-Ukraine campus rally and a panel discussion referring to the “Crisis in Europe.” All of this and more were recalled by speakers during the November walkout, joined with cries of “Shame!” toward the administration and those who denied the deadly reality of the workers in Palestine.

The second rally shows that not only are students still fed up with Chapdelaine and her attempts at “keeping the peace,” but that they are ready for stronger action that challenges the campus and bursts its picture-perfect bubble of a small, liberal arts college. In the weeks since the rally, students have been continuing conversations that the college refuses to facilitate. With this being our comrade’s final semester, much of the work will continue to focus on channeling the righteous student anger into organizing and planting the seeds for even more militant actions. There is great potential among students here and as communists, we must continue to bring revolutionary, internationalist politics to the struggle.