College students lament interrupted and canceled commencement ceremonies due to anti-Israel unrest

Several Jewish college undergraduates, many of whom had already experienced high school graduation cancellations due to the 2020 coronavirus, were hopeful as anti-Israel riots spread on campuses across the country. The university graduation ceremony was not held.

Students who spoke to Fox News Digital described their experiences over the past few weeks, which ended with the sudden cancellation of their graduation ceremony and sudden anti-Israel protests during the ceremony.

When asked about the female graduate who marched across the stage and ripped open her breasts at the School of Social Work’s graduation ceremony, Yola Ashkenazy, a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Barnard College, told Fox News Digital, “It was completely unnecessary drama.” ” he said. She took away her diploma as an act of protest.

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On the left is an anti-Israel encampment at the University of Michigan. On the right, Mark Leant walks in front of an anti-Israel demonstration on USC’s campus. (Photo courtesy of Mark Leyant and Isabel Allard)

“They really tarnished my experience and that of many others at Columbia University. At the end of the day, Columbia University is a place of learning. A place of fruitful discussion, but in the past it has not been a place of learning. It was a few weeks,” Ashkenazy said.

“Some students posted a photo of me holding an Israeli flag online in an attempt to intimidate and cyber bully me, which was very disturbing.”

At the University of Southern California (USC), the graduation ceremony for Mark Leyant, who recently earned a master’s degree in science and green technology, was canceled due to anti-Israel protesters occupying the campus.

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The university noted that individual schools’ graduation ceremonies, doctoral conferral ceremonies, and other celebrations and activities are being held on separate days, but due to enhanced safety measures, students and their families are He warned them to “take more time” before the graduation ceremony.

The announcement comes after the University of Southern California announced in April that its valedictorian, Muslim biomedical engineering student Asna Tabassum, had been accused by critics of promoting anti-Israel rhetoric on social media, raising safety concerns. This was held in the face of intense backlash for banning him from giving a speech at the graduation ceremony.

“So they should never have done that, because it would have caused something really, really scary on campus,” Leiant said of the University of Southern California’s decision to cancel graduation ceremonies. Ta. “And the other thing I have to mention is that because they submitted to these instigators, the ability of all students to study and attend classes was severely compromised.

“They have a strategy,” Rayant said. “It’s well documented that these people were given material that was essentially an anarchist cookbook.”

Three screen captures from a video of students tearing up diplomas in protest.

A viral video from a Columbia University livestream shows graduates of the School of Social Work tearing up their diplomas on stage during a graduation ceremony. (Colombia live stream/screenshot)

Based on his experience doing humanitarian work in Israel, Ryant said that the “real, legitimate Palestinians who are struggling through this situation” are not “the people who are screaming for destruction and destroying things.” Ta.

“They understand the reality of the situation. They don’t want war, they don’t want violence. Those who are actually involved in the conflict may want the most rational solution. It is high.”

Isabel Allard, a recent business graduate from the University of Michigan, told Fox News Digital that her graduation was also disrupted by a group of anti-Israel demonstrators who staged a protest midway through the ceremony, and were greeted with a chorus of boos from the thousands of attendees.

Law enforcement confronted the protesters, pushed them to the back, and remained there for the remainder of the event, but students “couldn’t hear anything on stage,” Allard said.

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“Our commencement speaker was Brad Meltzer. He gave a great speech. I didn’t hear a word of that speech. They were singing there the whole ceremony. ” Allard said.

Ahead of the ceremony, Allard said, “I was holding my breath, expecting the worst.”

Alana Paker, a recent economics graduate from Duke University, shared a similar experience with Allard. Paker’s commencement speaker, Jerry Seinfeld, was interrupted by anti-Israel agitators.

A sheet with tent and letters written on it "liberated area" Spotted at anti-Israel encampment at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Dozens of tents are set up as part of an anti-Israel protest at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Ed White)

“The sound reverberated throughout the stadium and was so loud that the president had to pause because he couldn’t hear him,” Paker told Fox News Digital.

Peikal said it was “very unfortunate” that Palestinian flags were waved by protesters shouting slogans and slogans.


“It’s just because he’s Jewish,” Paker said of Seinfeld. “This is an American school. If there’s a flag to wave at graduation, it should be the American flag. Their protests don’t really help.”

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.