Anti-Israel protests spark major disruptions at college graduations nationwide

Even as the New York Times reports just a “few” graduations have been affected on college campuses by anti-Israel protesters, an analysis by The Lion suggests the disruptions were…

Even as the New York Times reports just a “few” graduations have been affected on college campuses by anti-Israel protesters, an analysis by The Lion suggests the disruptions were widespread.

  • Columbia University: The school canceled its main graduation ceremony, and instead concentrated on school-based graduations. That allowed graduates from the School of Social Work to have a massive protest, saying, “Social workers are called to challenge injustice & fight against oppression under their code of ethics. We believe in a liberated Palestine in our lifetime.” It also allowed other students to tear up their diplomas after first tying themselves in zip ties. 
  • Duke University: About three dozen students walked out in protest of commencement speech by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who is Jewish and who was also receiving an honorary degree. Seinfeld has expressed support for Israel in the recent past. His daughter graduated from the university, where his son also attends. 
  • Pomona College: The Los Angeles Police Department was forced to declare an “unlawful assembly” by protesters after they followed the graduation ceremonies to a new location, said local ABC News 7. The school moved the location after anti-Israel protesters occupied the stage set for graduation, promising to disrupt the events. 
  • Emerson College: Protesters disrupted the ceremonies “multiple” times during graduation, said the school. This, after more than 100 protesters were arrested on campus for occupying protest encampments last month, according to local WCVB News 5.  
  • Virginia Commonwealth University: Students at VCU walked out of the commencement address of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, mostly in sympathy with the ongoing anti-Israel protests. But, according to The Hill, some also were protesting a decision by Youngkin to eliminate Critical Race Theory from the state’s K-12 education curriculum.  
  • University of California, Berkeley: “Hundreds” of protesters disrupted graduation at UC-Berkeley with chants, flags and finally, a student walkout, said Fox News. “UC Berkeley strives to celebrate the achievements of our graduates in a safe and respectful environment. While today’s commencement was, at times, unfortunately disrupted, it did not prevent us from honoring the hard work and accomplishments of our students,” said a UC-Berkeley spokesperson. 
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Some students and others tried to interrupt the graduation at UNC with flag demonstrations and with the occupation of well-known campus “landmarks,” said the local News Observer, but the anti-Israel protests were met with boos by other students. Police also removed protesters who tried to interfere with graduation photos, said the newspaper. 
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison: About 15 students walked out on UW Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin’s commencement speech and were then led away from the graduation by police, said local WMTV 15 News. Other students stood and turned their back on the chancellor. Anti-Israel demonstrators had previously reached a settlement with UW not to disrupt the commencement ceremonies, said the TV news station.   
  • University of Texas at Austin: Despite widespread reports that the UT-Austin graduation was protest-free, Aljazeera provided video of a protester who disrupted the ceremonies by unveiling a Palestinian flag. The protester was eventually escorted from the stage. Dozens of protesters gathered after graduation for an anti-Israel rally. 
  • Northeastern University: An NEU graduating student was removed from the event after trying to unveil a Palestinian flag, while wearing a shirt with fake blood, claiming the university funds Israel, said local WCVB News 5. Other students livestreamed the event from their phones with the words “NEU Funds Genocide Divest Now” superimposed on the video. 
  • University of Michigan: Chants by about 75 anti-Israel protesters disrupted the graduation ceremonies at UM. They were eventually escorted from the ceremonies, said a statement by the university. “I can’t even hear what’s going on with the graduation with this going,” graduate Jacob Johnson told Click on Detroit. “A lot of these people, their senior year of high school was during Covid, so they already had that ruined, and then now you have this going on too. It’s like, give these people a break.”   
  • University Arizona Tucson: Just hours before commencement, Police were forced to use “chemical munitions” to clear out occupied encampments of anti-Israel protesters, said the New York Times. Two faculty members were arrested in connection with the encampments. 
  • Indiana University: Students walked out of commencement ceremonies after booing university president, Pamela Whitten. The protesters, like many pro-Palestine supporters, are demanding the divestiture by IU from any investment in Israel and U.S. defense-related research, said local Fox 59 News. 
  • Xavier University: Two protesters were arrested outside graduation after refusing police orders to leave, said Forbes. This comes after Xavier cancelled the commencement speech by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, when anti-Israel students objected to her inclusion in graduation ceremonies, said ABC News.