Colleges prepare for unrest during Gaza war protestors’ graduation ceremonies

gathering at Michigan University

Campus protests may soon enter a new phase as universities throughout the country prepare for potential disturbances during commencement exercises.

This weekend marks graduations at four institutions rocked by pro-Palestinian protests.

Events are being held by several others, such as Columbia University, throughout the month of May and into June.

While demonstrators think about fleeing the nation and other options, universities are trying to strengthen security.

To force their colleges to sever connections with Israel during the Gaza War, protestors set up camps and staged campus rallies.

Thousands of people were taken into custody as a result of numerous institutions alerting the police.

According to a calculation by the BBC, since protests started at Columbia University last month, there have been about 140 student protests in 45 states and Washington, DC.

The majority of protesting students have not spoken out about the planned disruptions of commencements, or graduations as they are called in the US, thus far.

However, at graduation ceremonies at Indiana University, attendees have been invited to walk by IU Divest and the Palestine Solidarity Committee, whose campus was cleared by police twice in the last few weeks.

“Enhance your pro-Palestinian position instead at the ‘Liberated Zone,'” the post on Instagram says, referring to the demonstration location on a Bloomington, Indiana university campus. “Become a part us in donning your keffiyeh coupled with a hat and dress.”

The president of the institution, Pamela Whitten, will time the march.

Teachers worried about academic freedom threatened to vote against Ms. Whitten in early April after she cancelled a Palestinian artist’s display and punished a teacher for supporting a student club that supported the Palestinian cause. Oops…

Two others who asked to remain anonymous said that teachers also talked of holding a “silent protest” outside the start to voice their disapproval without interfering with the ceremony.

On May 4 and 5, respectively, the universities that have witnessed protests in the last two weeks—the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, and the University of Connecticut—will graduate.

Protesters will go through security screening and banners and flags will not be allowed in these specified areas, according to plans issued by University of Michigan officials.

According to the university’s website, volunteers will be in charge of the start-up and will “respond to delays, start-ups, and alerts”.

It was unclear from Alifa Chowdhury of the Tahrir Coalition, which is demonstrating, if any disturbances were intended. He said that suggestions for conversation had been “completely ignored” by the institution.

“It makes obvious why they’ve been putting out strategies & instructing workers in order to make certain riots don’t occur” , he said.

Ohio State Camp police

Ohio State College Dean Ted Carter has pledged to uphold free speech rights for students but also executing rules barring “intentional disruption of university functions, classes, exams or programme, including initiation,” about 200 miles (320 km) south.

The co-president of the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Heba Latif, is a Palestinian-American student. She declined to comment on if there will be any rallies during the commencement ceremony on May 5.

Columbia’s graduation is set on May 15. Police will be present on campus during graduation season. They arrived earlier this week to quell student activities.

International student from Palestine studying at Columbia, Mahmoud Khalil, told the BBC that the protest campaign would continue.

According to Mr. Khalil, “students are revolting since October.”

“They’ve faced punishment from the college, which includes and suspension, parole, and that isn’t stopping anyone.”

In Columbia, when asked repeatedly if any disturbances were planned, protestors remained silent.

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