South Florida college students react to anti-Gaza war protests across the nation

As the Israeli-Palestinian war heats up with an invasion of Rafah, South Florida students haven’t protested as much as those in other parts of the country. However, they advocate for more action and worry about a state crackdown if there are local protests. 

Since October 7, 2023, almost 40,000 people have died in the struggle on both sides. Almost 100,000 people have been wounded, most of them Palestinian. Despite entreaties from around the world, Israelis have so far rejected a ceasefire.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called for peace last week after about 30 protestors were arrested at campuses across the state – almost half at the University of South Florida, where police tear-gassed a crowd. The Miami area was relatively calm, though.

“Here in South Florida, people are more Caribbean based,” said Andrew Petit-Pha, an FIU junior who studies nursing. “They are more worried about their homes.”

He added that the war is “unfair and not justified.” People on both sides “are being mistreated because of their religious beliefs.”

Sabrina Gray, a Miami native and recent University of Texas graduate, believes that Israel’s attack on Palestinians in Gaza is unjust. An influencer with about 10,000 followers on X, she often speaks about the conflict in her space.

“Silence is complicity,” she said. “So why not speak up for something that’s not right that could possibly make a difference?”

Michael Lewis, who graduated from FIU last summer and works at the library at the Biscayne Bay campus called the war “heartbreaking and senseless.” He also added that a ceasefire is needed as soon as possible.

“It’s for a greater cause,” Lewis said. “I think Israel should pull back.”  

Misterina Victor, a Barry University biology major, feels that because of social media these protests happening on college campuses are making a difference. “These are human lives that are being ended,” Victor says. “I think that it’s [important] that we are protesting about injustices.” 

“If I didn’t have social media, I probably wouldn’t know anything about this,” Victor added. “Social media is covering more footage of these protests and giving quicker updates than the news stations themselves.”

Jason Oboh is a Florida International University student in his senior year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital journalism. He enjoys listening to music and watching sports. After graduation, he plans to work in the sports and music media.

Ahmiyah Nelson is a Florida International University sophomore pursuing a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. She is interested in entertainment and music. She has also completed nationals in mid-distance running.