USC cancels main stage graduation ceremony over protests

The university cited safety concerns after over 90 people were arrested on campus on Wednesday.

The University of Southern California announced Thursday that it has canceled its main stage graduation ceremony because of protests over the Israel-Hamas war. 

The announcement came just one day after over 90 protesters were arrested on campus. 


Driving the news: USC was set to host its graduation ceremony on May 10, but the university announced its cancellation under new safety measures as more protests continue to pop up across college campuses in the US.

  • Students at USC have been protesting the university’s decision to cancel a planned commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian citing safety concerns.
  • Although the university will still host dozens of commencement events, including traditional individual school ceremonies where students receive their degrees, school officials worry that any ongoing protests could disrupt May commencement ceremonies.

State of play: Other universities have also seen intensified protests over the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At Emerson College in Boston, 108 people were arrested overnight at an alleyway encampment, and California State Polytechnic University witnessed protesters barricaded inside a building for three days.

  • Students protesting the war are calling on schools to 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.
  • Columbia University in New York has also been the site of intense demonstrations, with police clearing an encampment and arresting more than 100 people last week, only for students to defiantly put up tents again. The university plans to continue negotiations with protesters through early Friday.
  • Meanwhile, colleges around the country have called in police to break up demonstrations, resulting in dozens of arrests and ugly scuffles.

The backstory: USC’s decision to cancel its main stage graduation ceremony comes after it cancelled the planned commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian due to safety concerns, which was praised by several pro-Israel groups but lambasted by free speech advocates.

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