Education

Student Protests at University of Michigan Commencement Reflect Divisions Over Israel-Gaza Conflict

What you need to know more about

  • In related events, a pro-Palestinian protester was arrested outside the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art, and clashes between police and protesters occurred at other universities across the country.
  • A plane even flew over the university carrying a banner urging divestment from Israel and advocating for a free Palestine.


During the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremony, student protesters made their voices heard, some expressing solidarity with Gaza while others sided with Israel. They waved flags and chanted slogans, with Palestinian flags and keffiyehs representing Gaza supporters, accompanied by anti-war chants such as “Israel bombs, UMich pays!” and “How many kids have you killed today?” A plane even flew over the university carrying a banner urging divestment from Israel and advocating for a free Palestine.

Amidst a heavy police presence, graduates joined in, staging a walkout while displaying Palestinian flags and wearing keffiyehs. This protest, part of a wave of similar demonstrations across US universities, coincided with Israel’s ongoing conflict with Gaza, resulting in casualties on both sides.

Despite tensions, no arrests were made during the ceremony, which drew tens of thousands of attendees. The importance of peaceful protest was emphasized by US navy secretary Carlos Del Toro during his address.

Following the ceremony, students continued their activism by setting up a Palestinian solidarity encampment on campus, demanding university divestment from companies with ties to Israel. The encampment was supported by various organizations, illustrating a broad coalition advocating for change.

In related events, a pro-Palestinian protester was arrested outside the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art, and clashes between police and protesters occurred at other universities across the country. These incidents reflect the intense debate and activism surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on college campuses nationwide.

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