May 2, 2024 - Politics

University of Utah to boost security at graduation amid campus protests

Illustration of a large picket sign next to a group of smaller picket signs.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The University of Utah will increase security and the number of police officers at Thursday evening's graduation ceremony amid ongoing pro-Palestinian protests on campus.

State of play: Rebecca Walsh, a university spokesperson, said the security measures will be similar to that of a football or basketball game and a clear bag mandate will be in place at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, where commencement will take place.

  • Demonstrators plan to hold another protest at 5:30pm — a half hour before the school's commencement ceremony starts.
  • Activists are urging graduates, students and school employees to walk out during university president Taylor Randall's speech.

What they're saying: "We hear the protesters, and they have the right to express their viewpoints," Walsh said in a statement. "They do not, however, have the right to disrupt this celebration of their peers' years of hard work and academic achievements."

  • Walsh added protesters are welcome to "express their opinions outside."

Catch up quick: Protests at the University of Utah began peacefully on Monday, but eventually led to violent clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement authorities.

  • 20 people have been arrested since Tuesday, according to the university. Most were not students.
  • Utah Democrats have defended the demonstrators' rights to peacefully protest on campus.

The big picture: Demonstrations and encampments on college campuses calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and divestment in Israel erupted in late April across the nation, sparking arrests and faculty walkouts in solidarity, Axios' Russ Contreras writes.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Salt Lake City.

More Salt Lake City stories