Emory University moving commencement ceremony off campus after protests

Emory University has announced that its 2024 commencement will be moved off campus.

According to a letter from Emory President Gregory L. Fenves, the move is due to concerns about safety and security following multiple protests at the school's Decatur campus last week.

"I have been firm in my commitment that Emory will celebrate our graduating students at Commencement. While that commitment has not changed, concerns about safety and security require us to adjust the plans," Fenves wrote in the letter. 

Fenves stated that the decision was not made lightly and that they consulted the school's police department, security advisors, and other agencies.

Fenves acknowledged that the news would be "deeply disappointing" for many graduating students.

Pro-Palestinian protesters return to Emory University (Credit: FOX 5 Photojournalist Billy Heath)

"I feel like college is really important to my family, like getting that education," Amelia Tamez, a senior, told FOX 5 Atlanta. "So, I feel like walking across the stage is kind of a final, you know, you did it, and you made it this far."

The ceremony, typically held on the quadrangle, will now take place on May 13 at the Gas South Arena in Duluth for all undergraduate bachelor's degree candidates from Emory College of Arts & Sciences, the Goizueta Business School (BBA), the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (BSN), and the School of Medicine (Bachelor of Medical Science) and their previously ticketed guests. Graduates from Oxford College as well as graduate and professional programs are invited to view the ceremony via webcast.

Additionally, each school will host a diploma ceremony where each student is individually recognized. The Emory College diploma ceremony will occur in the same arena immediately following the University Ceremony. All other school diploma ceremonies will take place at the Gas South Convention Center, located next to the Arena at the Gas South District.

"We didn't have high school graduation, so I'm glad we still get to walk across the stage," Tamez said. "It's super chaotic, but it's also a very important time for us, too, for people to be coming together and kind of realizing what you've been through the last four years."

On April 25, students and others calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war set up an encampment on the school's campus. The situation became chaotic when the protesters refused to leave, resulting in multiple arrests during a confrontation between police officers and protesters.


Multiple schools across the nation have dealt with escalating protests in the last few weeks and other schools have also made the decision to move their commencement ceremonies.

Columbia University in New York City also announced Monday that it will not hold its main commencement ceremony on campus following weeks of protests. 

The University of Southern California canceled its main commencement ceremony on April 25 after police broke up an encampment and the campus was put on shutdown.