Protests vs. Israel-Hamas war pushes U.S. school to cancel graduation rites

THE University of Southern California (USC) canceled its main graduation ceremony and dozens more college students were arrested at other campuses nationwide Thursday, April 25, 2024, as protests against the Israel-Hamas war continued to spread.

College officials across the U.S. are worried the ongoing protests could disrupt plans for commencement ceremonies next month. Some universities have called in police to break up the demonstrations, resulting in ugly scuffles and hundreds of arrests, while others appeared content to wait out student protests as the final days of the semester ticked down.

USC announced the cancellation of the May 10 graduation ceremony a day after more than 90 protesters were arrested on campus. The university said it will still host dozens of commencement events, including all the traditional individual school commencement ceremonies.

Tensions were already high after USC canceled a planned commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing safety concerns.

“We understand that this is disappointing; however, we are adding many new activities and celebrations to make this commencement academically meaningful, memorable, and uniquely USC,” the university said in a statement Thursday.

The Los Angeles Police Department said 93 people were arrested Wednesday night during a campus protest for allegedly trespassing. One person was arrested on allegations of assault with a deadly weapon.

Students’ demands

Students protesting the war are demanding schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies enabling the conflict. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus. / AP


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