May 23, 2024 - News

Harvard students walk out of commencement to protest encampment punishments

A metal gate at a college

The Johnston Gate at Harvard University was locked during the student encampment in Harvard Yard. Photo: David L. Ryan/Getty Images.

Over 1,000 Harvard University graduates walked out of their commencement ceremony Thursday in protest of the school's decision to bar some students who participated in pro-Palestinian encampments from getting their degrees.

Why it matters: After encampments and demonstrations on campuses across the country were shut down by police and college administrators, students are maintaining their anti-war push and their demands that universities divest from Israeli companies.

State of play: As they left the Harvard Yard ceremony, students chanted "let them walk" and proceeded to a nearby church to hold what they called a "people's commencement."

  • They honored the 13 undergraduate students the university disciplined.

What they're saying: "As a Palestinian who has been betrayed and abandoned by the University, I cannot tell you how much it means to me that all of you walked out in solidarity with the Palestinian people," Harvard Law School graduate Lea H. Kayali said, according to the Harvard Crimson.

Catch up quick: Harvard began suspending student protesters two weeks ago as final exams began. Suspended students are not allowed to take exams or walk at commencement.

  • Faculty members voted to excuse the 13 students this week, but the university's board overruled them.

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