WATERVILLE — About 200 people gathered at Colby College on Monday night for a vigil honoring those who have died in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Those who spoke during the gathering, organized by the campus groups Colby Action for Palestine and South Asian Society, described the armed conflict as genocide against the Palestinian people and mourned those who have been killed.

Members of the Colby College community listen Monday as poems are read during the “Vigil for Palestine” on the Waterville campus. About 200 people attended the event. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Most of those in the crowd were students, though it appeared some faculty or staff members and others attended.

“Tonight, we honor the people — the men, the women, the children — killed as part of this genocide and in (a) greater pattern of violence against the Palestinian people at the hands of settler, colonial powers,” the speaker who delivered the opening and closing remarks, said.

After the vigil, the speaker identified herself as “Princess I.” She then said that was not a real name when another organizer said participants were not supposed to provide identifying information to the news media.

“We also acknowledge that today is Holocaust Remembrance Day,” Princess I. said in the opening remarks. “And our hearts go out to those generations impacted by this genocide.”


The war was sparked by an Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people and took 250 hostages, according to reports.

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza says Israel has since killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, The Associated Press has reported.

In recent weeks, students on college campuses across the country have taken stands on the war.

Some protests and encampments on campuses in states including Massachusetts, New York and California have led to arrests. Columbia University and the University of Southern California have canceled their main commencement ceremonies scheduled for this month.

But college campuses in Maine have largely been spared the unrest. Demonstrations have generally been small and peaceful.

Following Monday’s event at Colby, college officials said: “The vigil was a respectful and thoughtful way for our students to express themselves and honor lives lost, and we support their ability to do so.”


Monday’s vigil at Colby began at 7 p.m. on the steps in the quad outside Miller Library.

A dozen people spoke during the hourlong gathering. Most read poetry, in English, written by Palestinian authors.

The speakers were followed by a reading of dozens of names of Palestinians who have died in the war.

One speaker addressed criticism of the U.S. college students who have been protesting.

A member of the Colby College community, who did not wish to provide her name, gathers candles Monday at the close of the “Vigil for Palestine” at the school in Waterville. About 200 people attended the vigil. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The world is suffering from “a plague of indifference,” the speaker, who did not provide her name, said.

“Palestinians are people — people with lives,” the speaker said.


As the sun set at about 8 p.m., 10 students participated in the Islamic sunset prayer known as Maghrib.

The gathering focused most on those who have died in the conflict, rather than on demands made previously by a pro-Palestinian group on campus. In the closing remarks, the person identified as “Princess I.” called on the Colby community to take action.

“The silence at Colby has persisted for too long,” Princess I. said.

At Colby last week, the group Colby Action of Palestine, one of the organizers of Monday’s vigil, called on the school in an email to take several actions that would cut ties with Israel.

Colby President David A. Greene and administrators responded they would entertain a meeting with the group, but had “no intention of simply acquiescing to threats and arbitrary deadlines from an anonymous group.”

It was unclear who had sent the email because it came from an address outside Colby, college administrators said.

The group later responded that it was not making threats. It also said it disagreed with Colby’s criticism of its anonymity.


Morning Sentinel staff writer Amy Calder contributed to this report.

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