May 2024 Newsletter: Navigating Civil Disobedience on Campuses

Navigating Civil Disobedience on Campuses

“Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

In his essay Civil Disobedience, published in 1849, Henry David Thoreau argued that individuals must leverage their collective power to challenge government when they believe it  engages in actions that are immoral. Thoreau believed that each citizen has a duty to stand up against unjust policies and not enable the government to lull them into inaction, thus making them agents of injustice.

Civil disobedience is grounded in the concept of nonviolent action to advocate for social change, when individuals choose to disobey a law for moral or philosophical reasons. It is intended to amplify issues that individuals or groups find unjust, and bring forth public discourse that will lead to policy change.

Dozens of colleges across the country have recently experienced student-led protests against Israel’s war on Gaza. As the protests have heated up, with activists setting up encampments and even taking over campus buildings, university leaders are struggling to determine the most effective way to respond. 

As a college student, I engaged in campus protests, and continue to be a fierce advocate for social justice, so I laud the student activists who are putting their lives and futures on the line for something they strongly believe in.

I also acknowledge there is no simple way to balance protecting students’ freedom of speech and right to protest alongside maintaining a safe environment for all.  The vast majority of student-led campus protests around the country have been peaceful, yet there have been incidents of anti-Semitic speech that have led to Jewish and Israeli students feeling targeted. There is growing concern that much of the extreme and dangerous behaviors are actually being perpetrated by individuals unaffiliated with the universities, as appears to be the case at UT Austin

However, the presence of police in riot gear forcefully removing and arresting non-violent protesters is alarming and dangerous. For example, Columbia University’s decision to bring the NYPD onto campus escalated the temperature on campus and actually ignited dozens of protests on other campuses across the country.

Amidst the chaos, there are some signs of hope for peaceful resolution. This week, Northwestern University announced a deal that permits the continuation of campus protests. Some takeaways that other universities can learn from Northwestern:

  • When the encampment was established, administrators banned tents but did not enact the policy immediately so they could first engage in negotiations with the protesters.
  • Protesters agreed to eliminate the encampment and sound systems in order to continue their campus-wide protests through June 1.
  • The administration agreed to fund visiting Palestinian faculty members, give scholarships for Palestinian undergraduates, and provide a community building that can be used as a gathering space for MENA students.

In our work at MSM Global, one of our principle norms is acknowledging multiple realities. We are all looking at the same situation through our individual lenses that are influenced by our emotions, ideologies, and experiences. It is easy to rush to snap judgments and actions that can potentially have severe consequences when we do not pull back to take a more holistic view of the situation. Perspective taking and deep listening are paramount to constructive dialogue and I believe play a critical role in civil disobedience.  Because the Northwestern administration and protesters were willing to come together and listen to one another’s concerns and needs, they found a path forward. Leaders across our nation’s campuses could learn from this approach. 

Maria Morukian
Maria Morukian
Founder and President


MSM Global Updates

April has been a whirlwind for the MSM Global Consulting team! From enriching travel experiences to fostering meaningful connections, and driving initiatives for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) growth, we’ve been fully immersed in advancing our mission. As we dive into May, the momentum continues to build, promising another month filled with opportunities to make lasting impact. 

For anyone interested in bringing similar sessions to your conferences or organizations, reach out to and let us know!


Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Animal Care Expo

We continue to serve the animal welfare profession in a variety of meaningful ways this month.  Maria Morukian and Jasmin Robinson will be presenting at the 2024 Animal Care Expo in San Antonio, Texas.

  • Seeking connections, gaining commitment: How to navigate diversity, equity and inclusion dialogues
    DEI is often mischaracterized or misunderstood, and people don’t always have the tools to be able to engage in complex and emotional conversations that may arise. This learning lab will offer animal welfare leaders with tools and resources for engaging in challenging conversations around DEI in their profession.
  • Effective employee retention strategies using a DEI lens
    The U.S. labor force is more diverse than ever, and the next-generation workforce expects employers to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive. However, hiring managers cannot afford to overlook prioritizing DEI in their strategies. This session uses themes from our 2021 State of DEI in Animal Welfare Report to conceptualize what it takes for leaders to build a culturally responsive work environment that fosters inclusion and supports employee retention. 


Women In Government Relations Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summit: Building the Community We Need | May 8-9th

Maria will be speaking at WGR’s 5th Annual DEI Summit with a session entitled “Navigating Polarization and Combatting DEI Fatigue,” which will explore the cycle of progress, polarization, and pushback in DEIA work and the impact on leaders and agents of change and identify techniques to navigate polarizing conversations, regulate emotional triggers, and speak truth in high risk situations. 

The Summit welcomes government relations professionals of all backgrounds and identities committed to advancing more inclusive advocacy and policy-making, more effective policy outcomes, and diverse leadership.


The Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference and Expo | New Orleans, LA

Maria will be presenting and doing a book signing at the upcoming ATD ICE in New Orleans! This event is the seminal gathering for training and talent development professionals around the globe, and this year’s theme, Recharge Your Soul, is a crucial one for all of us during these challenging times. 

Maria will be presenting a session entitled, “Breaking Through the DEI Wall.” Even the most well-trained endurance runners have found themselves hitting what is called the “wall,” when their energy suddenly bottoms out and they feel like they’ve run headfirst into a brick building. After repeated attempts to make progress for DEI only too often to face inertia, ambivalence, and hostility, anyone involved in DEI efforts (e.g. leaders, trainers, talent development professionals, DEI practitioners) may find ourselves feeling exhausted by what feel like insurmountable odds. 

How can we push past the “wall,” to surge our DEI efforts forward in the moments of greatest adversity, without causing damage to ourselves and others? This session will explore strategies to bring an endurance mindset and regimen to DEI, and equip individuals with the tools to develop the physical, mental, and emotional stamina to continue to make progress even when we hit the wall. 

Join us for this important conversation if you are attending ATD ICE this year, and come find Maria during her author meet up and book signing for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Trainers: Fostering DEI in the Workplace. Learn more at the author meet-up space! 

Culture Stew

March 27th Episode: Inclusive Insights: A Conversation with Dr. Carol Parker Walsh

Podcast Video Update! You can now watch this, and all previous Season 5 episodes on the MSM Global Consulting YouTube channel! 
With her extensive experience and expertise, Dr. Carol Parker Walsh shares invaluable insights on fostering inclusive workplace cultures, overcoming resistance to DEI initiatives, and the power of coaching for professional growth. Don’t miss this enriching conversation that goes beyond building time for professional growth and also encourages personal care! 

April 17th Episode: Empowering Mental Wellness: A Conversation with Dr. Dominique Pritchett

In this Culture Stew episode, hosts Maria Morukian and Roger Moreano chat with Dr. Dominique Pritchett, a mental wellness strategist, on themes of empowerment, identity, and resilience. Dr. Pritchett’s expertise in clinical psychology and social work offers insights into navigating challenges and advocating for mental health. Tune in for valuable discussions on prioritizing wellness and overcoming adversity.
Empowering Mental Wellness: A Conversation with Dr. Dominique Pritchett 

May 1st’s Episode: Cultivating Change: Embracing Growth with Veronica H. Moore

Join hosts Maria Morukian and Roger Moreano in an engaging episode of Culture Stew with Veronica H. Moore, a dedicated advocate for inclusive environments. Veronica shares insights from her varied background, highlighting the importance of well-being in driving social change and the transformative power of nature. Explore her personal journey, advocacy work, and the inspiration behind her children’s book, “Rosie’s Special Gift,” emphasizing kindness and empathy.
Cultivating Change: Embracing Growth with Veronica H. Moore 


MSM Global Gallery 

  • PEN America, an organization dedicated to protecting free speech, has a robust Campus Free Speech Guide, with specific tools for protesters engaging in civil disobedience.

    The PEN America Campus Free Speech Guide offers valuable advice for students considering engaging in protests involving civil disobedience. Civil disobedience, while not protected by the First Amendment, has a rich history of effecting social change, particularly on college campuses. The guide emphasizes the importance of informed decision-making, offering tips on getting trained, being prepared for responses from authorities, and staying nonviolent. It also highlights the need to educate participants about potential risks and vulnerabilities, as well as the importance of including opportunities for support and involvement for all students. The guide provides further resources for those interested in learning more about civil disobedience and protecting free expression.


  • Beautiful Trouble is a website and organization dedicated to providing resources, tools, and training materials for activists and organizers involved in social movements. The website hosts a variety of resources aimed at promoting creative activism and nonviolent resistance. Beautiful Trouble is known for its comprehensive approach to activism, which emphasizes creativity, strategic thinking, and nonviolent action. The organization collaborates with activists, artists, and educators from around the world to develop resources that empower individuals and communities to create positive social change.

    Utilize the storytelling section to focus on the power of narrative and storytelling in activism. This section may include tips, case studies, and practical exercises to help activists effectively communicate their messages through storytelling.


Content For Your Down Time

The 11 best civil rights movies of all time  

This article by Austa Somvichian-Clausen highlights 11 impactful civil rights movies, from thought-provoking thrillers to inspiring historical dramas, each touching on real-life struggles and triumphs. From “Harriet” to “Remember the Titans,” these films capture the essence of social justice movements and cultural shifts, leaving viewers inspired and moved by the stories they tell.

10 Films and TV Shows That Tell Asian American Stories

To honor Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, check out this listicle curated by Jessica Sun Li in The Dartmouth,  sharing film and television works by East and South Asian American artists. This is just a small sample of the stories and experiences that represent the vast spectrum of Asian American identity. 

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