Updated May 4th, 2024 at 09:00 IST

Graduation Plan Cancelled, Police Deployment: How Pro-Palestine Protests Shook US Universities?

In view of the demonstrations by students on the campuses, several universities have trained staff volunteers in how to mitigate any possible disruptions.

Reported by: Manisha Roy
How Pro-Palestine Protest Change Course for US Universities? | Image:AP
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Washington: The pro-Palestine protest across several universities in the United States seems to have a cascading effect on the scheduled events in the educational institutes, including graduation ceremonies to be held soon. In view of the demonstrations by students on the campuses, several universities have trained staff volunteers in how to mitigate any possible disruptions, a change from the usual duties of escorting guests around campus and guiding through their seats.

As the University of Michigan commences on Saturday, the volunteers have been given similar training. The University of Illinois' will commence the following weekend and the staff volunteers will undergo a similar special training, Reuters reported.

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Visual from University of Chicago (Courtesy: AP photo)

In many cases the colleges have either cancelled or moved key events off campus like University of Southern California and Cal Poly Humboldt in Northern California.

California College Cancels Graduation Ceremony

The University of Southern California called off its main-stage graduation ceremony last week after canceling the valedictorian speech by a student who said she was silenced by anti-Palestinian hatred.

The last days of the students at the campuses are generally celebrated in anticipation of a joyful graduation ceremony but this event will have a different feel post the police crackdown on protesting students, demanding end of Israel-Gaza war. The chaos witnessed at campuses have had major impacts on the universities activities with even classes being suspended, police deployment at some places, upending the final days of the school year. It is also affecting their commencement plans.

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(Courtesy: AP photo)

Protests Across US Colleges

In the past weeks, nationwide protests intensified across the US with students setting up tents on college campuses and refusing to disperse followed by police action. This even led to a clash between demonstrators and counters protesters at the University of California (UCLA) which saw many injuries.

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Calling for an end to war, Demonstrators have urged President Joe Biden to do more to stop the bloodshed in Gaza and demanded schools divest from companies that support Israel's government.

Media reports suggest that a section of students have welcomed the safety protocols measures that have been implemented like deployment of law enforcement at the campus and they did not expect to alter their security protocols for the event.

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(Courtesy: AP photo)

Police Crackdown

Some university leaders have called in riot police wielding batons and flash-bang grenades to disperse and arrest hundreds of protesters, citing a paramount need for campus safety.

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Columbia University became the hotspot of the student protest movement, where New York police cleared a two-week-old encampment by arresting dozens of protesters on Tuesday. University President Nemat Minouche Shafik acknowledged that many were concerned about the university's commencement plans.

Meanwhile, schools that have avoided more explosive confrontations with protesters by allowing the ‘tent city’ to remain on campus or agreeing to consider divestment demands are under less strain ahead of their graduation ceremonies.

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(Courtesy: AP photo)

The pro-Palestine protests have been staged in response to Israel's offensive in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and turned the buildings there into heaps of rubble.

Israel launched the attack on Gaza after a Hamas attack on October 7 that Israel says killed 1,200 people. Israel has killed over 34,000 people in retaliation, according to Gaza health authorities, and flattened the Palestinian territory.
 

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Published May 4th, 2024 at 07:36 IST