AES Statement on Campus Protests and Civil Disobedience

Submitted by Chris Carr on
The Department of American Ethnic Studies Logo

As a department that traces its origins to campus protests, the Department of American Ethnic Studies stands firmly and unequivocally in support of students’ rights to protest. We affirm their right to engage in civil disobedience and vigorously express their views without fear of violence or reprisal. We call on the University and all of its members and representatives to uphold these values and to guard and support our students and engage with them in good faith as they call attention to injustices and call into question the University’s involvement and implication in them.  We assert our solidarity with students, faculty, staff, and community members around the country and around the world who have been unjustly and often violently targeted for protesting the war in Gaza.

The student and community protests, sit-ins, and occupations that ultimately gave rise to our Department and to the interdisciplinary academic fields of ethnic studies were highly controversial in their time, condemned in ways that echo the current moral panic over campus protests. Yet the tangible results produced by those earlier protests are now embraced and celebrated by the University and local and state government, and former student organizers have gone on to become respected community leaders, proudly claimed and honored as UW alumni.

We call on our University to support and honor the passionate ethical commitment of our student organizers now, when it is most needed, rather than waiting twenty or forty or fifty years to do so.

We further insist on our students’ unquestionable right to safety from violence, threats of violence, harassment, and retaliation. Even as student protesters have taken on significant personal risk, protests nationwide have been overwhelmingly peaceful, and the greatest threat to campus safety has come from the use of police. We look with horror at assaults on student protesters, student journalists, and faculty who attempted to de-escalate and defend their students. This violence is a concerted effort to suppress public protest, delegitimize independent journalism, and undermine the role of students and faculty in shaping university decisions. We acknowledge that this violence is connected to the incalculably greater violence that has fallen on schools, scholars, teachers, journalists, and students in Gaza.

With deep concern for student protesters at UW and across the world, we call on our University and community to keep our campus safe from violence, and commit not to use police force to quell student protest.


Rick Bonus

Chris Carr

Anjélica Hernández-Cordero

Lauro Flores

Lorna Hamill

La TaSha Levy

Linh Thủy Nguyễn

Devon Peña

Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky

Sonnet Retman

Oliver Rollins

Vince Schleitwiler

Connie So