The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Student Leaders Release Statement of Unity


Members of Niles West’s Middle Eastern and North African Club (MENA), Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Jewish Student Association (JSA), authored a joint statement of unity after listening sessions with Superintendent Tom Moore. Moore visited West on Wednesday, Oct. 11 to hear concerns from Palestinian students, Jewish students and their allies, after his email addressing attacks on Israel elicited criticism for failing to name Palestine specifically.

MSA Board Member and senior Asma Patel helped craft the statement.

“Drafting the statement with MENA and JSA was a thoughtful experience, and I’m really glad it happened. It was an opportunity for us to show that despite our differences and conflicts happening on a global scale, at West, we’re united in one goal: peace,” Patel said. “Each of our clubs represents a unique community, and we wanted to ensure that we’re all heard and seen.”

JSA sponsor and English teacher Sharon Swanson was touched that the students came together during a difficult week to release the statement.

“I was so impressed and proud of the students who were involved in this. It showed me two things. First of all, we have some very bright, mature, caring students at Niles West. Second of all, and I am quoting one of my friends, these kids do not need adults to tell them how to think,” Swanson said.

MENA club member Farah Albayati felt that the clubs’ meeting was worthwhile.

“I thought that the meeting we had was so much more productive than [the listening sessions] because members and leaders of MSA, JSA and MENA came together and talked through the underlying issue of all of this. And we were able to hear different perspectives from the Muslim community, the Jewish community and people who identify as Middle Eastern or Palestinian. In the hours that we spent, it was so much better than whatever we got done during the 4th and 5th [period sessions],” Albayati said.

JSA co-president Max Spector expressed what he hopes readers take away from the statement.

I want to make sure both sides and anyone else affected are lifted by each other instead of torn down. I have always felt that Niles West has an amazingly diverse community, and that should make us stronger, not weaker. I hope that people decide to help those who are struggling right now. I hope other schools take this as an example of maturity. I hope that readers realize that although we can’t affect what is happening in the Middle East, we can affect how we react,” Spector said. 

October 11th, 2023
On behalf of the Muslim Student Association, Middle Eastern and North African Club, and Jewish Student Association, we believe it is essential to come together at this moment to express our collective commitment to and desire for peace, dignity, and the basic human right to live without fear of violence or persecution for every member of our shared human family. What we share in our humanity takes precedence over any political or religious differences we may have. We recognize that the loss of life, casualties, and escalating conflict bring pain and distress to our community, especially those with family members or other loved ones in Israel and Palestine. Our main goal in sharing this joint statement is to promote compassion, unity, love, and mutual respect for our fellow Niles West community members in the face of horrific events and violence abroad. One group’s pain should not cancel out another group’s pain; these tragedies hurt everyone in our community, including but not limited to our Palestinian, Jewish, Israeli, MENA, and Muslim students and staff. We are committed to doing this work together and ask for support and kindness as we strive for peace at Niles West.

— Joint Solidarity Statement from Our Niles West J.S.A., M.S.A., and M.E.N.A. Student Leaders and Sponsors, Written in collaboration with the Niles West Youth Activism Club

Farah Albayati is also a staff writer for the Niles West News. 

The students who authored the joint statement and the names of their sponsors follow: Yacoub R., Asma P., Celine R., Joshua M., Max S., Miral S., Nabiah S., Rahmeen Y., Yusef S., Hussain J., Zaviar A., Farah A.;  Mr. Kosiba (YAL Club Sponsor/MSA Sponsor), Ms. Spletzer (YAL Club Sponsor), Ms. Fatima (MSA Club Sponsor), Ms. Kokoris (MSA Club Sponsor), Ms. Swanson (Interim JSA Club Sponsor), Ms. Davood (MENA Club Sponsor), Mrs. Hasan (MSA Club Sponsor)

This story has been updated to include interviews that were not available at press time. 

This story has been updated to reflect Farah Albayati as a member of MENA club. 

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  • C

    Carolyn L KosibaOct 14, 2023 at 12:40 PM

    Thank you for allowing students to discuss and share their feelings with all members of the NW community

    If only adults could do the same

  • A

    alumniOct 14, 2023 at 11:46 AM

    from the river to the sea, palestine will be free ?? not a matter of religion or faith but a matter of humanity. #palestinianlivesmatter