Columbia Cancels Main Commencement Ceremony After Anti-Israel Protests That Roiled Campus for Weeks

Noting that the past few weeks have been ‘incredibly difficult’ for the community, the school says it made the decision after discussions with students.

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Anti-Israel protesters demonstrate near Columbia University on February 2, 2024 at New York City. Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Columbia University is canceling its large university-wide commencement ceremony amid ongoing anti-Israel protests but will hold smaller school-based ceremonies this week and next, the university announced Monday.

“Based on feedback from our students, we have decided to focus attention on our Class Days and school-level graduation ceremonies, where students are honored individually alongside their peers, and to forego the university-wide ceremony that is scheduled for May 15,” officials at the Ivy League school in upper Manhattan said in a statement.

Noting that the past few weeks have been “incredibly difficult” for the community, the school said in its announcement that it made the decision after discussions with students.

“Our students emphasized that these smaller-scale, school-based celebrations are most meaningful to them and their families,” officials said. “They are eager to cross the stage to applause and family pride and hear from their school’s invited guest speakers.”

Most of the ceremonies that had been scheduled for the south lawn of the main campus, where encampments were taken down last week, will take place about 5 miles north at Columbia’s sports complex, officials said.

Columbia had already canceled in-person classes. More than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had camped out on Columbia’s green were arrested last month, and similar encampments sprouted up at universities around the country as schools struggled with where to draw the line between allowing free expression while maintaining safe and inclusive campuses.

The University of Southern California earlier canceled its main graduation ceremony while allowing other commencement activities to continue. Students abandoned their camp at USC early Sunday after being surrounded by police and threatened with arrest.

The protests stem from the conflict that started October 7 when Hamas terrorists attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking roughly 250 hostages.

Associated Press

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use