Protesting Students at Columbia University Display Palestinian Flags, Wear Handcuffs, and Tear Diplomas During Graduation Ceremony

Columbia University's graduation ceremony was disrupted by pro-Palestine protests, with students wearing handcuffs and displaying Palestinian flags. The university-wide commencement ceremony was cancelled due to security concerns, with school-based ceremonies held instead.

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Nitish Verma
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Columbia Graduation Disrupted by Pro-Palestine Protests

Columbia Graduation Disrupted by Pro-Palestine Protests

Columbia University's graduation ceremonies were disrupted by pro-Palestine protests on Friday, with students wearing handcuffs, displaying Palestinian flags, and even tearing up diplomas on stage. The protests followed weeks of clashes between demonstrators, administrators, and law enforcement on campus.

Why this matters: The disruption of the graduation ceremony highlights the growing tensions and divisions on college campuses regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which can have broader implications for free speech and academic freedom. As protests and demonstrations continue to escalate, they may also influence public opinion and shape policy decisions on the issue.

Defiant graduates, including Tarsis Salome, Maliha Fairooz, Veda Kamra, and Hilary Margaret Elizabeth Ludlow, wore zip-tie handcuffs and brandished pro-Palestinian signs during the ceremony. Salome tore her diploma to shreds on stage, while Fairooz had the name of a Hamas leader, Mazen Jamal Al-Natsheh, written on her cap as she accepted her degree.

The protests led to the cancellation of the university-wide commencement ceremony, with school-based ceremonies held instead at Columbia's sports complex, 5 miles away from the usual South Lawn location. The decision was made due to heightened security fears after weeks of violent anti-Israel demonstrations on campus, which resulted in over 200 protesters being arrested and removed by NYPD cops.

Columbia University spokesman Ben Chang expressed disappointment over the situation, stating, "Holding a large commencement ceremony on our campus presented security concerns that unfortunately proved insurmountable." He added, "Like our students, we are deeply disappointed with this outcome."

The protests have been ongoing for weeks, with a tent encampment erected on campus descending into chaos. NYPD cops stormed the campus twice last month to clear out disruptive demonstrators and oust a pro-terror mob that illegally took over the university's iconic Hamilton Hall building.

More than 50,000 people typically attend Columbia's university-wide commencement ceremony, which was cancelled this year due to the security concerns stemming from the pro-Palestine protests. The disruptions at Friday's graduation marked the culmination of weeks of tension and clashes between activists, university officials, and law enforcement on the Ivy League campus.

Key takeaways

  • Pro-Palestine protests disrupted Columbia University's graduation ceremonies, with students wearing handcuffs, displaying Palestinian flags, and tearing up diplomas on stage.
  • The protests signify escalating tensions on college campuses over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, posing challenges to free speech and academic freedom.
  • Graduates such as Tarsis Salome, Maliha Fairooz, Veda Kamra, and Hilary Margaret Elizabeth Ludlow defiantly protested during the ceremony, leading to its cancellation.
  • Columbia University moved school-based ceremonies to a sports complex due to security concerns following violent anti-Israel demonstrations on campus.
  • More than 200 protesters were arrested and removed by NYPD cops amid weeks of protests, resulting in disruptions and clashes.