Some Colleges Withhold Pro-Palestinian Protesters’ Diplomas

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A number of students who protested at their college campuses in support of Palestine amid the Israel-Hamas war are now facing the threat of not being conferred their degree, as institutions withhold diplomas.

Students being denied their academic certificates have experienced various other consequences due to protesting, such as arrests, suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary measures. Now, some graduating students feel they are being used as examples to prevent future demonstrations.

Over the weekend, four students at the University of Chicago had their diplomas withheld pending disciplinary proceedings stemming from protest involvement on campus encampments. 

During the commencement ceremony Saturday, dozens of students walked out of the proceeding, holding Palestinian flags and chanting in support of the students facing disciplinary action. Professors and nearly one-third of the Chicago City Council have spoken in support of these students, the latter requesting the university to allow for their graduation.

“The only thing that differentiates me from my peers and friends that will be receiving their degrees tomorrow, is that I talked about Palestine,” Youssef Hasweh told 5 Chicago ahead of the ceremony. 

At Harvard University, five undergraduates were suspended and 20 are on probation for their involvement in protests, including 13 seniors who were denied their diplomas. Recently, the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union called for “more transparency and clarity” from top administrators on the issue.

At Princeton University, two students had their degrees withheld in relation to a pro-Palestinian walkout during a president’s address to alums, where protesters raised red-painted hands and chanted before they walked out of the building to protest outside.

At Vanderbilt University, three students are accused of pushing a community service officer and a staff member and have been charged with misdemeanor assault while occupying an administrative building, according to a statement by the institution. These students and others involved with the demonstration are dealing with the disciplinary measures of expulsion and interim suspension.