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University Graduation Season Gets Underway Amid Ongoing Protests

U.S.University Graduation Season Gets Underway Amid Ongoing Protests

Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly disrupted a graduation ceremony at the University of Michigan on Saturday, as universities holding commencements braced for more tensions generated over the war in Gaza.

Dozens of pro-Palestinian supporters in kaffiyeh and graduation caps unfurled and held up Palestinian flags in the aisles of the ceremony at Michigan Stadium, as a speaker invoked the school’s “Go Blue” slogan. Protesters marched down the center aisle toward the stage, chanting: “Regents, regents, you can’t hide! You are funding genocide!”

One person in the audience could be heard yelling back, “You’re ruining our graduation!” Some patrons sitting in private boxes hung Israeli flags from their seats, as university police blocked the protesters from moving closer to the stage and pushed them toward a section in the back of the venue.

Overhead, a plane flying the message “divest from Israel now! Free Palestine!” circled the stadium. Another plane with a banner offered a different message: “We stand with Israel. Jewish lives matter.”

The ceremony did not stop. Neither did the chanting, though how audible or distracting it was might have depended on where people sat in the stadium. But the protesting was indicative of how the university in Ann Arbor and several other schools are wrestling with how to handle student protests during graduation ceremonies this month.

Indiana University Bloomington, Northeastern University and Ohio State University are also set to hold graduation ceremonies this weekend, with more scheduled across the country in the coming weeks.

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