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Professor Resigns Over School’s Involvement In Palestine’s Genocide

Denver, CO — On Wednesday, a professor at the Graduate School of Social Work and an alumni of the Sturm College of Law, Z Williams, publicly announced their resignation from the University of Denver “on the basis of the school’s ongoing involvement in the US-funded genocide against the Palestinian people.”

Unicorn Riot covered their press conference live, tune in below.

Below is the full statement written by Z Williams.

“My name is Z Williams. I am an alumni of the Sturm College of Law and currently a professor at the Graduate School of Social Work.

Today, I am announcing my resignation from the University of Denver on the basis of the school’s ongoing involvement in the US-funded genocide against the Palestinian people.

Israel is dropping 2000 pound bombs with surgical precision on refugees living in tents. We have seen their photos — charred bones, headless children, entire generations flattened. Those bombs are funded by US tax dollars, financed by US institutions, and manufactured less than a hundred miles away from Denver. The military and the government behind those bombs are funded by elite private institutions such as the University of Denver. Despite this incredible human and moral crisis, the University of Denver has refused to honor even the simplest demands students, faculty, and alumni: disclose your investments and divest from genocide. Name that a genocide is happening and condemn it.

There is an active scholasticide in Palestine — the intentional destruction of educational institutions. There is an active epistemicide in Palestine — The systematic obliteration of entire pillars of knowledge. Every single university in Gaza has been destroyed. Ground invasions were scheduled on the days of final exams. The Central Archive of Gaza, cataloging 150 years of history, was reduced to rubble. Satiliete imagery analyzed by UNICEF confirms the calculated obliteration of early-childhood schools. Now, the students — from preschool to graduate programs — and their professors, teachers, and administrators are all dead.

Education is not only a tool to understand the broader world. It is how students find their identity in the world. Israel, with the support of the University of Denver and many other institutions, is culpable in the elimination of the opportunity to be educated for millions of Palestinian children. We are all culpable.​​​​​​​

Palestinian scholar and poet Rafaat Alareer said: ‘The tragedy that has befallen the academic, scholarly and intellectual community in Gaza and in Palestine is unprecedented. Israel is destroying the foundations of society in the Gaza Strip.’ It is pertinent to note that Rafaat Alareer was murdered in a precision air strike on his house.

Despite my growing rage and despair at the annihilation of Palestine, this choice was not easy. I love my students. Every quarter I meet 40 to 60 bright new people, and I work to bring the world to them and remind them it is theirs to change. I introduce them to legendary activists and history makers. We travel to the capitol to meet lawmakers, engage in the legislative process, and advocate for policies that have changed Colorado. My students have my personal number, which they call and text any time they need support academically and personally, as they are consistently underresourced by this institution. I have had the honor of being recognized as Adjunct Faculty of the Year by the students of GSSW.

However, the DU administration and I have reached an impasse. The Graduate School of Social Work is intended to be a bastion of social justice. My colleagues are some of the brightest minds in decolonial work, grassroots organizing, abolition, and mutual aid. I teach classes designed to encourage my students to join social movements and change the world.

Presently, my students have area restrictions and suspensions for honoring those lessons and protesting genocide. Our staff is facing political retaliation. How do I teach students about advocacy, liberation, and justice only to have the administration of this school punish them for practicing just that? How do I teach those classes on a campus that refuses to honor its own values?

Despite the tremendous resources of the University, it fundamentally depends on the labor of adjunct faculty such as myself. We are underpaid, overworked, and we tirelessly go above and beyond for our students. We lack any protection of our free speech as academics or our participation as stakeholders in this institution. I have not only witnessed but experienced firsthand the increasing surveillance, repression, intimidation, and pressure from Campus Security and the administration to abandon the Palestinian Freedom Struggle. This not only exploits us as workers. It chills our right to speak.

How could I continue to endorse an institution with my labor who will not condemn the bloodbath in Gaza?

My university is the world, and the University of Denver has become its enemy.

Following this press conference, I will be walking to GSSW to submit my letter of resignation. I invite you to walk with me, if you so choose.

I come to this choice knowing that I risk certain impacts to my career. However, I tell my students that we have to try everything we can when we are in freedom work, and the risk of doing nothing is always greater than the risk of doing something.

To my fellow faculty members resisting in any way you are able, I am always with you. Keep fighting wherever you can. This institution is not you. You hold and nurture this struggle. Do not waiver.

To my beloved students, this is the moment to act on our lessons from class. Do not be a bystander. Be brave. Be powerful. Be a part of a movement. Do not listen to me. Listen to our professor, Refaat Alareer, who said:

‘If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale’

Even if we cannot meet in the classroom, I will meet you in the streets. As one of my dear comrades in the Auraria student movement says, ‘The Palestinian Struggle is Our Struggle.’ Lets be there. We will continue to learn together.

Free Gaza. Free Rafah. Now and before it is too late, Free Palestine.”

Statement by Z Williams

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