Columbia cancels university-wide commencement after protests

The school pledged to focus on keeping the smaller ceremonies "safe, respectful, and running smoothly."

Published: May 6, 2024 8:57am

Updated: May 6, 2024 9:09am

Columbia University on Monday announced that it would cancel its university-wide commencement ceremony scheduled for May 15, following weeks of anti-Israel protests on campus.

The New York City Ivy League said it would focus on school-level ceremonies, where graduates will be honored individually, rather than the university-wide ceremony. 

"Our students emphasized that these smaller-scale, school-based celebrations are most meaningful to them and their families. They are eager to cross the stage to applause and family pride and hear from their school’s invited guest speakers," the school said. "As a result, we will focus our resources on those school ceremonies and on keeping them safe, respectful, and running smoothly."

Access to Columbia's campus in the Manhattan neighborhood of Morningside remains limited to essential employees and students who reside in on-campus housing.

While the school has been the focus of numerous protests since shortly after Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, tensions rose last month after demonstrators established a "Gaza Solidarity Encampment," which sparked similar quad camp protests across the nation. New York Police Department officers arrested about 100 students last month when the protest first began. The camp quickly reformed, and more than a week later, demonstrators started occupying Hamilton Hall, a campus building, causing administrators to once again call in NYPD to make arrests.

Columbia is not the only school to cancel their main commencement ceremony. The University of Southern California said last month it would not hold its main university-wide commencement due to security concerns.

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