Hundreds of pro-Palestinian students walk out in protest at Stanford University graduation

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 22: Stanford students and Pro-Palestinian protesters gather at Stanford University to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza, in Stanford, California, United States on April 22, 2024. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)
A pro-Palestinian student group, seen protesting at Stanford this month, encouraged other students to walk out of the university's graduation ceremony on Sunday and instead attend a "People's Commencement." (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Hundreds of Stanford University students walked out of their graduation ceremony Sunday in a show of support for Palestinians, capping a tumultuous year on campus rocked by protests related to the Israel-Hamas war.

Videos circulating on social media show a trickle of students, many waving kaffiyehs and Palestinian flags, get up from their chairs as Stanford President Richard Saller delivers his speech to the graduating class. Within minutes, hundreds can be seen streaming out of the stadium.

The walkout was planned by a pro-Palestinian student group, which had encouraged students to leave the formal ceremony and instead go to a “People’s Commencement” at a different location.

“We invite graduates, friends, and family to walk out of commencement ... to show support for divestment and honor Palestine this graduation weekend,” the group wrote on Instagram.

Standing on a makeshift podium, a speaker at the alternative ceremony called the walkout a “final act of protest.”

“You have made history with a record-breaking sit-in and a beautiful encampment,” the speaker told the relocated crowd. “Today, you are graduating with a head held high.”

The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stanford has been rocked by protests this year led by students furious over mounting casualties of innocent Palestinians. This month, campus police arrested 13 pro-Palestinian protesters, made up of students and alumni, who had barricaded themselves inside the president’s office. The university said at the time that the students involved were suspended and that seniors were told they could not graduate.

Last year, protesters set up a large encampment on campus, which became the longest sit-in in Stanford history. Administrators banned camping in February “out of concern for the health and safety of our students.” Activists set up another encampment at the same plaza in April.

Times staff writer Jaweed Kaleem contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.