Columbia cancels university-wide commencement ceremony

Columbia University announced on Monday morning that the school is canceling their university-wide graduation ceremony after weeks of Gaza protests.

In a post on their website, the school said: "Based on their feedback, we have decided to make the centerpiece of our Commencement activities our Class Days and school-level ceremonies, where students are honored individually alongside their peers, rather than the University-wide ceremony that is scheduled for May 15."

Columbia protests began last month and kicked off demonstrations that spanned from California to Massachusetts.


Columbia University protests: A timeline of how we got here

Tensions on Columbia's main campus continue to escalate. NYPD officials forced their way into Hamilton Hall as protesters had occupied, vandalized, and blockaded most of the building overnight.

"Our students emphasized that these smaller-scale, school-based celebrations are most meaningful to them and their families," the school said. "They are eager to cross the stage to applause and family pride and hear from their school’s invited guest speakers. As a result, we will focus our resources on those school ceremonies and on keeping them safe, respectful, and running smoothly."

The nationwide campus protests began at Columbia in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza after Hamas launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages. Vowing to stamp out Hamas, Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to the local health ministry.

On Columbia’s campus, protesters first set up a tent encampment. The school sent in police to clear the tents the following day, arresting more than 100 people, only for the students to return – and inspire a wave of similar encampments at campuses across the country.

Negotiations between the protesters and the college then came to a standstill, and the school set a deadline for the activists to abandon the tent encampment last Monday afternoon or be suspended.

Instead, protesters defied the ultimatum and took over Hamilton Hall early last Tuesday, carrying in furniture and metal barricades. The demonstrators dubbed the building Hind’s Hall, honoring a young girl who was killed in Gaza under Israeli fire, and issued demands for divestment, financial transparency and amnesty.

Adams claimed last week the Columbia protests were "co-opted by professional outside agitators." The mayor didn’t provide specific evidence to back up that contention, which was disputed by protest organizers and participants.