On March 22 at 4:00 p.m., the de-chartered Brandeis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Revolutionary Student Organization rallied on campus. According to a collaborative post on the SJP and RSO Instagram profiles, the rally’s main goals were to call on Brandeis to: “1. Request that the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office drop all charges against the seven people arrested while dispersing from the Nov. 10 rally,” “2. Provide financial transparency on all its expenditures and investments” and “3. Stop supporting the genocide of the Palestinian people by engaging with the Zionist occupation’s economy and institutions, and representing dissent on campus.” Additionally, during the rally, members of the organizations presented a “Petition to End Brandeis University’s Attacks on Free Speech.”

The rally started on the green outside of the Usdan Student Center directly across from the Rabb Steps. Members of these organizations started gathering shortly before 4:00 p.m., most wearing masks or other face-concealing clothing items and carrying posters. There were also several protest marshals stationed around the group’s perimeter, wearing blue identification vests and handing out masks. Organization members informed the group that these marshals were there for their safety, and if any member of the police were to approach, a marshal should be called over to handle the situation. A legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild was present and visibly identifiable with a piece of neon headwear. This observer remained for the duration of the event and took copious notes. An individual from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management was also present and informed The Justice that they thought it best for at least one member of faculty to overlook the event. 

Shortly after the rally began, select members of SJP and RSO gave their opening remarks. They reiterated the purposes of the rally, expanding on Brandeis’ reputation as a “social-justice organization.” A speaker argued that the University uses recognizable names like Angela Davis ’65 — political activist of color — to cover up injustices such as this one. Speakers expressed that they felt that while this is a “social justice university,” the school administration “[hates] students doing social justice.” 

“Where is the safe space, where is the constructive dialogue [the University likes] to brag about?” a speaker questioned. “We have cops surrounding us, people around us attempting to dox us. Brandeis isn’t trying to protect us, it’s endangering you!” 

Various attendees advocated for the support of student voices regarding their perspectives on the Israel-Hamas conflict, with one member stating, “They told us it was to protect our Jewish students. But those Jewish students are right here.” One of the protest marshals reviewed safety protocols for the rally that had been posted on their Instagram accounts prior to the event, specifically the importance of not engaging with police, press or counter protestors. “It is not our intention to get you arrested … If we are told to disperse, we will be dispersing.” They also encouraged demonstrators to use the buddy system, both at the beginning of the gathering and as they were dispersing after the event. 

At 4:19 p.m., protesters began their march to the Bernstein-Marcus Administration Center. An event participant led the crowd in chants as they walked through campus, which included “One, two, three, four, let the Brandeis seven go, five, six, seven, eight, our right to free speech is at stake!” and “Ronald Ronald you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide,” in reference to University President Ronald Liebowitz. The group continued at a slow but steady pace, chanting loudly. At 4:29, they reached the outside of the Bernstein-Marcus building, where the rest of the rally took place. An event speaker reminded the crowd “This is still public property, don’t worry — I dare them to arrest anybody.” According to the Brandeis Public Safety page, all Brandeis buildings, grounds and parking areas are posted as private property. 

The rally continued with another round of speakers from both organizations. The format was such that the speaker would give a statement or statistic, and the protestors would respond loudly with chants of “SHAME.” The first of these speakers argued that violence against Palestinians is a “bigger picture” than self-defense against the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, firmly identified the conflict as an “ethnic cleansing” and identified the need to hold the University accountable to advocate for the Palestinian people. 

“We’re on a campus where students are afraid to show up to a vigil,” the speaker said. They explained that the term “ethnic cleansing” was in reference to both “physical resistance and cultural expression.”

At 4:41 p.m., the organizers opened the floor to anybody who wanted to speak. One speaker in particular mentioned the recent Posse Plus Retreat in which President Liebowitz allegedly stated “I believe there should be limits to free speech on campus” and was witnessed “fleeing” the building instead of engaging with student voices. “Within 15 minutes, [Liebowitz] ran out the door,” a speaker said. 

Several other SJP members and demonstrators reminded the students in attendance of the influence they hold at Brandeis. “You may not feel like you have power, but as students at this university, you have so much power,” they reminded the group. “The University is nothing without your tuition dollars. You are so powerful here. We the people at the University are the ones who have the power to speak up to create lasting change.”

“The students at Brandeis are angry … you can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube,” a speaker commented.

Many speakers chose to elaborate on the ways Palestinians are suffering, specifically referring to the fact that Palestine has “zero functioning hospitals.” In addition, one mentioned that some Palestinians “are feeding themselves with grass and animal feed” in reference to Ramadan, the Muslim holiday where observers fast from dawn to sunset every day between March 10 and April 9. The speaker conveyed that the hunger in Palestine is extreme enough for practicing Muslims to break this tradition. Another protestor mentioned that this gathering is the first instance where they had to update their speech because “the death toll rose by 100 since yesterday.”

A speaker asked the gathering, “Where is the humanity, where is the dignity, where is the law, and let me ask you: where is the limit?”

At 4:52 p.m., a member of the organizations presented the petition to the crowd. According to the speaker, the petition has over 800 signatures. Demonstrators taped the petition to the front windows of Bernstein-Marcus and the Ethel and Reuben Gryzmish Academic Center. Messages on stickers and signs were taped to the doors alongside the Palestinian flag. 

Those at the gathering also used chalk to write messages on the pavement in front of the building such as “HANDS OFF GAZA STOP FUNDING GENOCIDE” “32,000+ Have been MURdered!”,“RON, Your have blood on your hands!”,“F your ‘Birthright’ F your ‘Israel Studies’” and “SILENCING STUDENTS helps NO ONE!” 

The protest officially dispersed at 5:09 p.m., ending with a community scream expressing anger of the protestors.