Anti-Israel Protests Prompt USC To Cancel Commencement

University of Southern California graduate
University of Southern California graduate | Image by University of Southern California

The University of Southern California has canceled its main graduation commencement ceremony amid heightened security concerns on campus following anti-Israel protests.

The university published the announcement on Thursday: “With the new safety measures in place this year, the time needed to process the large number of guests coming to campus will increase substantially. As a result, we will not be able to host the main stage ceremony that traditionally brings 65,000 students, families, and friends to our campus all at the same time and during a short window from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.”

While university officials say they understand the decision was disappointing to many, new activities such as a release of doves, a performance by the school’s marching band, and other places for friends and family to gather will be provided.

The decision comes following a mass anti-Israel protest on USC’s campus Wednesday that led to the arrest of at least 93.

The protest resulted in the university closing campus gates, restricting all unauthorized visitors from entering campus until further notice.

USC made headlines earlier in the month for canceling the valedictorian’s speech at commencement. The Class of 2024 valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, who is Muslim, claimed the decision was a result of “anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian” voices on campus.

Andrew T. Guzman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UT, chose Tabassum as valedictorian. However, in a letter to the USC community published on April 15, he stated that Tabassum would not deliver a speech at commencement over ongoing safety concerns.

“The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement,” read the letter. “… As always, and particularly when tensions are running so high across the world, we must prioritize the safety of our community.”

Guzman emphasized that the decision has nothing to do with freedom of speech and should not diminish the achievements of any student considered or selected for valedictorian.

According to a statement by Tabassum, she says that in a meeting between her, Guzman, and the Associate Senior Vice President of Safety and Risk Assurance on April 14, the university officials explained to Tabassum that they had the resources to take appropriate safety measures for her speech. However, they allegedly said that the university would not be doing so because “increased security protections is not what the University wants to ‘present as an image.'”

“Because I am not aware of any specific threats against me or the university, because my request for the details underlying the university’s threat assessment has been denied, and because I am not being provided any increased safety to be able to speak at commencement, there remain serious doubts about whether USC’s decision to revoke my invitation to speak is made solely on the basis of safety,” said Tabassum.

The decision to cancel the graduation ceremony over protests has some concerned that other colleges will follow suit.

Anti-Israel protests have engulfed college campuses nationwide. A protest at UT Austin on Wednesday resulted in the arrest of nearly 60, according to DX, who was on the scene. A protest at New York University on Monday resulted in more than 130 arrests.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article