Students caught in the middle of protest at UB North speak out

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — Protests against the ongoing war in the Middle East have been happening on college campuses across the country. This week, they came to Western New York, including twice on University at Buffalo’s Amherst campus.

Throughout this week we have heard from both sides of the demonstrations, pro-Palestine and pro-Israel supporters. On Saturday we were back on campus hearing from those directly affected after finding themselves in the middle of the protests.

“My studies definitely got affected by all of this. I had a test yesterday and just could not concentrate on my test,” one UB senior said.

On Friday, hundreds of pro-Palestine protestors marched around UB’s North Campus throughout the afternoon.

The protest resulted in students having to find alternative arrangements for studying, after the school took precautionary measures by closing dining locations in the Student Union building, Capen Hall and the Silverman Library. The closures made those who had assignments due frustrated.

“It is finals week and lots of students want to spend the day and night here at the Silverman Library because this is the only library open 24/7,” one graduate student said. “So, the library being closed was a hindrance in our studies.”

UB said in a statement that as a result of closing some buildings, most classes and lectures Friday occurred without interruption. One student said that wasn’t the case.

“100, 200 odd people were marching right outside our classroom, like inside the building, and they were shouting something we didn’t understand. Maybe it was their language, but the point being that you should not disrupt the classes that are going on right now,” said graduate student Ashmit Bhardwaj.

Transportation was also affected by the protest, causing the Flint Road bus loop and Mary Talbert Way to be closed.

“We are international students, and we must travel via bus,” continued Bhardwaj. “Those were disrupted, and we had to walk all the way from our home, maybe like a mile or something we had to walk. So, I mean, I think it’s a slight disruption.”

The students we spoke with say college is already a stressful time, mix in the campus-wide protests, study areas being closed and transportation to school being stopped. They said this caused even more unwarranted stress.

“There are master students who might go back home in 90 days because they don’t have a job,” Bhardwaj added. “Imagine the pressure on them when they come. They can’t come to campus. They can’t communicate with the professors, can’t access the libraries. Like, every day counts for them.”

“We are glad that the situation is in control,” another UB graduate student said. “Now we have got an email from the president of UB and a few faculty members saying that the situation is under control. I do not hope to get [have] such a situation [a]rise again on campus.”

We reached out to the UB Chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine to see if any more demonstrations are planned, but haven’t heard back.

Pro-Israel supporters are holding a march to stop Jewish hatred at UB North on Monday.

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Dillon Morello is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has been part of the News 4 team since September of 2023. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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