Columbia University cancels main graduation ceremony due to Gaza protests

Columbia University is cancelling its main, university-wide commencement ceremony amid ongoing pro-Palestinian protests but will hold smaller school-based ceremonies this week and next, the university announced Monday.

“Based on feedback from our students, we have decided to focus attention on our Class Days and school-level graduation ceremonies, where students are honored individually alongside their peers, and to forego the university-wide ceremony that is scheduled for May 15,” officials at the Ivy League school in upper Manhattan said in a statement.

The protests at Columbia, which drew international attention, have inspired similar demonstrations at dozens of universities around the US. Students have called for a ceasefire in Gaza and have demanded their schools divest from companies with ties to Israel.

Some universities, including Columbia, called in riot police wielding batons and flash-bang grenades to disperse and arrest hundreds of protesters, citing a paramount need for campus safety. Civil rights groups have decried such tactics as unnecessarily violent infringements on free speech.

Read moreColumbia University president in hot water over handling of pro-Palestinian protests

Columbia had already cancelled in-person classes.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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