Sixty-eight students, faculty and community members gathered on the lawn by the Broken Shield Wednesday evening to lobby Goshen College administration for an official statement in support of a cease-fire in Gaza. The attendees sang together, held signs and shared stories and feelings. 

The rally was organized by Luisa Dutchersmith, Liam Minielly, Sarah Miller, Ana Neufeld Weaver and Sophia Smucker; together, they make up GC Voices for Peace.

Neufeld Weaver said, “I was happy that a lot of students spoke, it’s really cool to see more people start to get involved … with the petition; we got a lot more support than we have in the past.”

Minielly agreed, and said, “I was happy with the turnout, but I think what I’m more happy with is the petition and how many signatures we got.” At the rally, Dutchersmith said they have “about 160” signatures. 

River Norton, one of the attendees, went because they were “enraged.” 

“The conversation just sounded like it was dancing around ‘why hasn’t Goshen College called for a cease-fire?’” Norton said. “Being here was really important to show that there are people listening, and that people want to bring about change.”

Sasha Dyck attended because, in her view, GC needs to call for a cease-fire to live out its mission. 

“I’ve just been thinking about global citizenship,” she said. “If we care about being global peacemakers and we care about the plight of other countries it’s obvious. We want peace for everyone, so why is there no action? That’s my question.” 

Smucker noted the ties between GC and Israel and Palestine. 

“We have a lot of connections and a lot of relationships, and part of Goshen is building those relationships and honoring them and we’re not honoring those right now,” she said. 

“There’s a lot of power in institutions, and our institution is very open about peacemaking and honoring those values. By not standing up and saying something I think we’re losing part of what we stand for. … Our institution can influence bigger systems.”

The rally comes a day after Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, issued an official statement supporting a cease-fire, after similar pressure from their student body. Amidst the rallies, EMU students rang their campus bell every four seconds for the more than 30,000 deaths. 

“It’s definitely encouraging to see Goshen’s sister school take action that we would like to see our own college do,” Minielly said.

When asked if an official statement was fair because it might not reflect the opinions of all the people it represents, Neufeld Weaver said, “I think a statement calling for a cease-fire would represent the majority of the people at the institution.

“I understand that it might not represent every person here. … Not every student here is going to be in line with everything the admin is saying, but [admin] still has to say what they want the institution to be as a whole.”

Smucker agreed. “I hope that everyone in our administration can at least acknowledge that there’s a lot of hurt going on. It’s political and complicated, but there still needs to be a call to action even if it isn’t a black-and-white question.”