AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The last group of UMass Amherst student protesters were in court on Tuesday for their arraignment after 500 UMass Amherst students walked out of their classes to protest the school’s ties with weapon manufacturers like Raytheon.
On Wednesday, October 25, 500 students at UMass Amherst staged a sit-in to protest the university’s ties amid increased aggression from the Israeli government towards the Palestinian people. Students delivered their demands to the university’s chancellor Javier Reyes.
They demanded that UMass cut all financial and physical ties and partnerships with weapon manufacturers like Raytheon and replace them with jobs that work towards a more sustainable and demilitarized future. They also demand that UMass condemns the Israeli massacre of Palestinians and condemn the blockade on Gaza.
The administration at the school responded to the peaceful sit-in by calling the UMPD to arrest
the protestors who remained in the building after it closed.
The last group to be arraigned Tuesday morning, speaking out after being in court. Toby Paperno, Junior at UMass, telling 22News, “It’s not just like 57 of us, there’s hundreds of people who are in the UMass community, maybe even thousands who want to do something about this and who feel strongly about this.”
Despite the charges, students like Junior, Hani Shaib, say that they don’t have any plans to let up on their demands any time soon, “I’m personally not worried about myself or what happens to me, because it’s not about me and this is something bigger than all of us.”
Some students met with Chancellor Reyes on Oct. 26th, but were not satisfied with the conversation. “He said ‘I want to listen, I’m here to listen,’ but he won’t, he refuses to actually take any action,” Paperno adds.
In a statement to 22News, Ed Blaguszewski, spokesperson for the chancellor’s office said, “The protestors’ specific demands do not align with the university’s publicly stated positions and policies.”
That public statement reads in part, “Our primary focus is to support our students, faculty and staff affected by these tragic events, regardless of their views on the underlying conflict.”
The university emphasizes no one was arrested for their views. In addition to their ongoing legal proceedings, the students who have been arrested will face the University’s Code of Student Conduct process.