USC cancels main commencement ceremony amid Gaza protests | California


The University of Southern California (USC) has canceled its main stage graduation ceremony, citing new safety measures as student protests over the Israel-Gaza war have surged on the campus.

USC is one of many campuses across the country that have become hubs for student demonstrations against the war, with hundreds of arrests nationwide as tensions escalate. Police arrested dozens of students and activists at USC this week on trespassing charges.

Universities have struggled to address the widening student demonstrations, drawing criticism across the political spectrum and becoming a flashpoint in the national discourse surrounding the war in Gaza. The turmoil has resulted in canceled classes, faculty walkouts and administrations calling the police on their own students.

USC announced the move to cancel its ceremony on Thursday, a day after more than 90 protesters were arrested on campus. The ceremony was scheduled for 10 May. The university already canceled a planned commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing safety concerns.

The university says it will still host dozens of commencement events, including all the traditional individual school commencement ceremonies where students cross a stage and receive their diplomas.

“We understand that this is disappointing; however, we are adding many new activities and celebrations to make this commencement academically meaningful, memorable, and uniquely USC, including places to gather with family, friends, faculty, and staff, the celebratory releasing of the doves, and performances by the Trojan Marching Band,” the university said in a statement on Thursday.

The Los Angeles police department said more than 90 people were arrested on Wednesday night during a protest on the campus for alleged trespassing. One person was arrested for alleged assault with a deadly weapon.

Although student protests against the war have been ongoing for months, the latest wave of demonstrations emerged after students at Columbia University in New York set up a pro-Palestinian encampment on school grounds. Columbia’s decision to send the New York police department into campus to arrest the protesters and tear down the camp drew immense backlash, and prompted similar encampments to pop up on campuses across the country in solidarity.

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The Associated Press contributed reporting

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