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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Disrupted graduations create a feel-bad moment for higher ed

College commencement ceremonies are supposed to be joyful, writes Hechinger's Liz Willen. This year, some students will graduate on "campuses with armed guards, student demonstrators, potential graduation interruptions and arrests" due to protests against the Israel-Hamas war.

Columbia University and USC canceled the main ceremony, Emory moved it off campus, as did Pomona. Berkeley's ceremony was disrupted by chants. Some universities have disinvited controversial or valedictorian speakers.

“These are awful images for higher education,” former Vassar president Catharine Bond Hill told Willen.

Graduation ceremonies are "an important moment for relationship-building with parents and recent graduates who might one day be donors," writes Willen.

Watching students boo the college president will not create cherished memories.

"The disruptions come amid souring public sentiment over the value of a college degree, with many colleges shutting their doors due to declining enrollment and a public concerned over years of high tuition costs and student debt loads," she writes.

Keffiyah-clad, Palestinian-flag-waving protesters has turned off some university donors. Police sweeps of encampments have turned off others.

136 views4 comments


Darren Miller
Darren Miller
May 13

Many of these students are ones who didn't get a high school graduation 4 years ago, during the 'rona shutdowns.


JK Brown
JK Brown
May 13

How's that college experience working out for the students who didn't take activism for extra credit?

I certainly know where the soon to be sent out letters asking alumni for donations would be going. Right into the round file.


May 12

The party's over

It's time to call it a day

Now you must wake up, all dreams must end

Take off your makeup, the party's over

It's all over, my friend

May 13
Replying to

Nat King Cole for the win!

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