Hundreds Walk Out of Harvard Commencement After 13 Pro-Palestinian Protesters Barred From Graduating

At a Harvard encampment of students protesting against the war in Gaza, April 25. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Boston Herald/TNS) — Hundreds of students walked out of the Harvard commencement Thursday in solidarity with 13 undergraduates who were banned from their diplomas for participating in a pro-Palestinian encampment on Harvard Yard.

“Let them walk!” students, faculty, and family members chanted in reference to the 13 students, rising out of their seats to march out of the ceremony as interim Harvard President Alan Garber began to hand students their diplomas.

The walkout follows the Harvard Corporation’s final ruling on the student protesters’ fate Wednesday. The Corporation voted to bar the 13 students from receiving their diplomas from the university, rejecting an overwhelming vote by Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday to amend the list of graduates to include the student protesters.

The Corporation said in a statement Wednesday they could not “responsibly vote” to award degrees to students who are not in good standing with the university “at this time.”

More than 1,000 people marched out of the university’s 373rd commencement of 9,262 students, the Harvard Crimson reported.

The demonstrators picked up Palestinian flags, donned keffiyehs and chanted over the ceremony as they poured out of the gates. The group, led by Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine organizers, headed down Cambridge Street to pack the Epworth Church for a “People’s Commencement,” honoring the 13 students and speaking on the continuation of the pro-Palestinian movement at the university.

“With every act of injustice that this administration carries out, it only makes the movement bigger, louder, and stronger,” said Rabea Eghbariah, a doctoral student at Harvard Law School, delivering the closing speech of the ceremony in Epworth Church.

Multiple student speakers honored at the official commencement delivered similar pro-Palestinian messages and criticisms of the administration in their remarks.

In a speech ahead of the walkout, Garber acknowledged the possibility of a protest during the event, calling on protesters to do so with the “community and occasion in mind.”

In the morning, planes flew over the school with the message “Jewish Lives Matter,” while a doxing truck reportedly drove around campus displaying the faces and names of pro-Palestinian student protesters and the words “Harvard’s Leading Anti-Semites.”

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