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Graduation ceremonies mostly peaceful amid pro-Palestinian protests

While many of these protests were relatively quiet, perhaps the loudest protests came from University of California, Berkeley.
UCLA faculty and staff members hold signs during a news conference at UCLA
Posted at 6:04 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 19:04:04-04

For many, college graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most universities are trying to hold graduation ceremonies despite concerns over protests over the war in Gaza.

But pro-Palestinian demonstrators disrupted the pomp and circumstance at schools across the country over the weekend, from chanting to walkouts to venue takeovers, like at Pomona College, outside of Los Angeles, which says it moved Sunday’s ceremony off-campus for safety reasons after demonstrators occupied the original venue.

"It's a really bad way to end your college career,” said Pomona student Ben Ginsburg. But another protester who only gave her first name, Elaine, said "as our universities celebrate, we should also be extremely critical of their involvement that has led to the decimation of entire educational infrastructure.”

About 100 students at Virginia Commonwealth University walked out of their commencement as Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke, protesting not only in support of Palestinians but also against the Republican governor’s objections to VCU’s proposal to require a racial literacy course for students.

Palestinian demonstrators are escorted out of the UW-Madison Commencement.

U.S. News

Small pro-Palestinian protests held Saturday during college commencements

AP via Scripps News
4:21 PM, May 11, 2024

In North Carolina, dozens of students and onlookers walked out of Duke University's graduation as comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who's been vocally supportive of Israel, took the stage to deliver the commencement speech.

While many of these protests were relatively quiet, perhaps the loudest protests came from University of California, Berkeley, where hundreds of graduating students stood in their seats chanting and interrupting speeches, with hundreds more taking over seats behind the main stage until security quietly cleared them out without incident.

Major universities, from Columbia in New York to University of Southern California in Los Angeles made changes to their commencement plans in response to protests demanding schools divest from Israel, from boosting security to changing venues or even canceling the main commencement entirely.