USC cancels graduation ceremony after mass arrests at anti-Israel protest

University of Southern California protesters confront University Public Safety officers as tempers get heated during a pro-Palestinian occupation on the University of Southern California campus, April 24, 2024 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
University of Southern California protesters confront University Public Safety officers as tempers get heated during a pro-Palestinian occupation on the University of Southern California campus, April 24, 2024 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The University of Southern California cancels its main stage graduation ceremony as college officials across the US worried that ongoing pro-Palestinian campus protests against Israel could disrupt May commencement ceremonies.

USC announces the cancellation of the May 10 ceremony a day after more than 90 protesters were arrested on campus. 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.

Tensions were already high after the university canceled a planned commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, who has advocated for Israel’s eradication, citing safety concerns.

“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 says in a statement.

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

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