Members of NU Divest staged their first demonstration of fall quarter on Friday, plastering Student Life Awards posters in the Norris lobby with the stories and photographs of people "persecuted by corporations" through living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, according to their posters.
With the headline and hashtag “Victims of Your Complicity,” the student activists aimed to remind the student body that Northwestern is still invested in six corporations from which the NU Divest resolution calls for divestment. Passed last winter quarter, the resolution has not yet led to an official change in the university’s investments or investment practices.
The demonstration began with students quietly setting up and preparing printouts. Then, in a coordinated flurry of action, they began taping them over the Student Life Awards posters.
“If we’re going to celebrate people who are enriching our campus and donating to our campus, these deaths,” said Communications sophomore Darcelle Pluviose, pointing to the images behind her, “their murders and lives are also connected.”
The location was chosen, according to an official statement from NU Divest, in order to “highlight the gravity of our own complicity in the murder of the Palestinians.”
The statement continued, “We are here to draw attention to the hypocrisy of celebrating individuals who work towards the 'improvement of quality of student life,' while simultaneously contributing to the decimation of quality of life for the Palestinian people. This is not an attack on individual students, but a reminder for us all."
Within 10 minutes of the posters going up, a Norris administrator asked the students to remove the posters on the grounds that they violated Norris’ flyering policies.
Assistant Director for Facilities Dan Foley said that flyering outside of designated areas is not allowed in the Student Center, and that typically Norris staff removes material they find on other walls and spaces.
Representatives from NU Divest claimed that they had checked the student center’s policies beforehand. As two members left the lobby to discuss the policy with administrators, the flyers remained on the wall for a few minutes as onlookers passed through the Norris lobby.
The crowd included parents and visitors who are on campus for Family Weekend, which is taking place this weekend. Kim Keating, a SESP sophomore and Family Ambassador, was standing of the lobby greeting visitors as the demonstration unfolded. “I think some families are surprised," she said, "but it’s an interesting way for them to see Northwestern, what goes on here."
Eventually, the students were required to take the posters down, but not before taking a group picture and having a moment of silence to remember the people whose pictures were on the wall behind them.