On Saturday, Dec. 2, a large group of pro-Palestinian students arranged a gathering at Toomer's Corner with the goal of raising awareness and protesting against recent military action by Israel in the Middle East.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been a heavy topic of conversation around the world for several weeks, and the campus of Auburn University is no exception.
While many of their peers spent the day preparing for their upcoming final exams, a sizable group of Auburn students who feel passionately about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza gathered to voice their displeasure of the situation.
Among these students was Aria Barjis, sophomore in political science and economics.
"There has been a lot of misinformation spread about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, as well as a lot of polarity," Barjis said. "I think one of the most important things about these issues is to really educate and bring attention to what is really going on and have an educated discussion."
Barjis emphasized how the group of protesters welcomed anyone with an opposing viewpoint to join in for a productive dialogue.
"I encourage anyone with any sort of perspective to give their two cents and talk about it because that is the only way to actually create a change," Barjis said. "No one is for the killing of Israeli citizens, and I would hope no one is for the killing of Palestinians. I think everyone wants the violence to stop."
Barjis offered insight into what a lot of the students at the protest feel that Auburn University could be doing in order to create a better environment for that dialogue to take place.
"Bruce Pearl has publicly spoken about how he feels pro-Israel," Barjis said. "Of course, you get to say what you want, but you represent Auburn in a way. Being such a prominent community member, it's important to think about who you could possibly be hurting when you voice your opinion. What I have mostly seen as a reaction to Bruce Pearl's comments is direct hatred toward the Gazans."
Barjis explained why she believes Auburn University should be more careful with the things its prominent figures say regarding the conflict.
"It's just really frustrating because I think Auburn is aware that having prominent community members speak out against you is going to cause hatred to spread toward the Middle Eastern community and Palestinian supporters," Barjis said. "I wish [Auburn University] would address that, but they have not."
Barjis suggested the spread of misinformation caused many problems when it came to discussing the conflict.
"All it takes is to do your research," Barjis said. "This situation is so polarizing. You hear one thing, and you get angry and speak out about it, but then you realize you didn't actually look into it and don't actually know what's going on."
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Daniel Locke, junior in journalism, is the community editor for The Auburn Plainsman.