UDM student group works toward justice in Palestine

BY Alani Letang



Bringing awareness is never easy, especially when it involves a hot-button global issue.

But the University of Detroit Mercy, home to a plethora of clubs, has a new one this year related to Palestine.

UDM Professor Diane Robinson-Dunn is the faculty advisor for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which debuted on campus in September 2014.

Dunn is enthusiastic about the group.

“It is rare that a faculty member finds that her own academic interests and those of a student group overlap,” she said.  

Dunn admits she has a strong emotional attachment to residents of Palestine.

“I cannot help but feel sympathy for the people of the region,” she said.

SJP is an international organization with chapters throughout the United States and Canada. 

The organization hosts many events to raise money and awareness of issues in Palestine, a contested area between many Palestinians and Israelis.

UDM members have hosted a bake sale to benefit the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a non-political, non-profit organization dedicated to healing the wounds of war, occupation and poverty for the children of the Middle East, regardless of nation, religion, race or gender.

Throughout the year, UDM has built relationships with other SJP chapters in the metro Detroit area, including those at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, as well as Students Allied for Freedom and Equality at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the Meta Peace Team.

These relationships have been made possible because of the hard work and dedication SJP students have put forth.

Dunn has had the help of two dedicated students.

SJP is led by co-presidents Salwa Choudhury and Lama Chamseddine.

“Our motivation was seeing what other SJPs around the country were doing at their schools and wondering why our 
school doesn’t have an organization that stands for the longest ongoing injustice,” said Choudhury.

SJB strives to educate students and faculty about what it sees as the injustices taking place in Palestine.

Christians and non-Arabs, such as Ethiopians, are being discriminated, dehumanized and oppressed in Palestine by the Israeli forces, according to Choudhury.

Palestine is often tucked under the rug, and not many students know about it, she said.

“We are very passionate about the Palestinian cause, even though neither of us is Palestinian,” said Choudhury. “We see this issue as a human issue, not a Muslim or Arab issue only.”

SJP is hoping to get people to relate with Palestinians.

“Palestine isn’t really covered by the mainstream media so we feel that we need to get the word out and keep it ongoing so people don’t forget the injustice,” said Choudhury.