DECEMBER 9, 2022
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Harvard Students Walk Out of Commencement in Protest Over Barred Pro-Palestinian Graduates

Harvard Students Walk Out of Commencement in Protest Over Barred Pro-Palestinian Graduates

Hundreds of students walked out of Harvard University's commencement ceremony on Thursday in protest after the school barred over a dozen pro-Palestinian seniors from receiving their degrees. The walkout, held in Massachusetts, saw participants chanting "Free, free Palestine" and "Let them walk," referencing the 13 students denied diplomas for participating in a pro-Palestine protest encampment.

Student speaker Shruthi Kumar criticized the administration, stating, "This semester our freedom of speech and our expressions of solidarity became punishable," and recognized the absent graduates, eliciting cheers from the crowd. Kumar expressed disappointment in the university's stance against free speech and civil disobedience, asking, "Harvard, do you hear us?"

Commencement speaker Maria Ressa, a journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, highlighted the significance of the protests, noting that "Protests give voice; they shouldn’t be silenced."

Asmer Asrar Safi, one of the barred students, condemned the university's actions in a written statement, emphasizing the institution's efforts to silence dissenting voices. He urged his peers to continue advocating for Gaza solidarity and university divestment from companies profiting from the conflict.

The walkout is part of a broader wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations across U.S. campuses, which began at Columbia University, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. The conflict, which intensified after an October 7 operation by Hamas, has resulted in significant casualties in Gaza, with at least 35,800 Palestinians killed and 80,011 injured.

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