URBANA — About 30 pro-Palestinian protesters denounced University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones at Friday evening’s homecoming parade, but the chancellor wasn’t there to hear them.
Instead, former UI President Stanley Ikenberry — the parade’s grand marshal — smiled and waved as he journeyed along the parade route, and the Marching Illini played on.
Before the parade began, about 20 local police officers gathered by the protesters, who agreed not to enter the parade route. The officers also agreed to keep their distance, mostly sticking to the opposite side of the street.
That prevented any major disruptions, unlike two years ago, when demonstrators protesting a Chief Illiniwek portrayer temporarily blocked the route.
“We will not stop resisting until Chancellor Jones meets our demands,” said UI senior Dunia Ghanimah, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.
Their protest stems from a mass email denouncing anti-Semitism — and apologizing for a controversial presentation about the Israel-Palestinian conflict made to residence-hall advisers — that Jones sent last week after a swastika was found on campus.
Students for Justice in Palestine criticized the email, saying it equated anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
They’re demanding that a new mass email be sent addressing their concerns, in addition to the establishment of a Middle East/North African cultural house, racism and bias training for housing staff, and the hiring of more Palestinian faculty, among other things.
“Hey hey, ho ho. Chancellor Jones has got to go,” the protesters chanted.
At a faculty meeting this week, Jones clarified the details of the incident, saying it involved a student who heard the initial presentation from a Palestinian-American student and decided to share it with others.
“In the process of that, some things were said that were highly inappropriate that really created an unsafe environment, not only for people from Israel or Jewish students, but also Palestinian students,” he said.