Students walkout from University of Chicago graduate program, school suspends 4 diplomas amid protests

CHICAGO — Dozens of students walked out of the University of Chicago’s commencement Saturday to protest the war in Gaza after the school suspended the diplomas of four seniors for their involvement in a pro-Palestinian camp.

A rainy two-hour outdoor ceremony was interrupted with shouts, cheers and calls to “stop the genocide”. A crowd of students walked out between speeches, and a demonstration followed the official ceremony. Some chanted while carrying Palestinian flags, while others wore the traditional kaffiyeh, a black and white checkered scarf symbolizing Palestinian unity, over their coats.

Four seniors, including Youssef Hawe, were notified by email in recent days of pending disciplinary action related to complaints about the camp, according to the UChicago group United for Palestine Students.

“My diploma doesn’t matter when there are people in Palestine and Gaza who never walked on a stage again, never got a diploma. What about them? Who is going to fight for them?” Howe said in a statement on Saturday.

University officials acknowledged the walkout, saying in a statement that “the school is committed to upholding the rights of students to express a wide range of ideas.”

At Harvard University, students have been walking out since commencement Massachusetts Institute of Technology Others have formed into resistance camps Across America and in recent weeks in Europe. Students have demanded their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support its war in Gaza. Organizers are seeking to increase calls for an end to Israel’s war with Hamas, which they describe as genocide against Palestinians.

A small demonstration after commencement, when demonstrators tried to access the closed street, resulted in the arrest of a person unrelated to the school, university officials said in a statement.

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The University of Chicago campus was dismantled on May 7. Administrators initially took a permissive approach, but later said the protest had crossed a line and safety concerns were mounting. A group He took charge temporarily A building in the school premises.

University officials said the demonstrations had prompted formal complaints, including “disruptive behavior” and would require further review. Students were still able to participate in graduation and receive their degrees if they were allowed to after a university investigation into violations of university campus policy. The university did not comment on the diplomas on Saturday.

Thousands of students and faculty members have signed a petition asking the university to grant the degrees, while a dozen Chicago City Council members have written a letter asking for it.

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