University Expands Restrictions For Commencement To Ward Off Anti-Israel Protests: REPORT

REUTERS/Craig Hudson

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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George Washington University (GWU) reportedly announced new restrictions for commencement ceremonies on Sunday to ward off anti-Israel protests.

The university expanded its list of items banned from its commencement ceremony on the National Mall after pro-Palestine demonstrations disrupted campus for nearly two weeks. The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) cleared out the protest encampments on Wednesday, WJLA reported.

Among the items now prohibited at commencement ceremonies are “amplified sound devices, such as noisemakers, bullhorns, megaphones and speakers,” according to the outlet. The university also banned flags and signs, including posters, banners and flyers, noting that they might block graduates’ and guests’ view of the proceedings.

Attendees are also prohibited from bringing bags larger than 18″ x 6″ x 8″, WJLA reported. Permitted bags will be subject to search.

Organized protests have not been outright prohibited during the commencement ceremony, but they must be conducted within the confines of a designated “First Amendment Zone” in accordance with National Park Services protocols, according to the outlet.

Those who violate GWU’s updated policy will be asked to produce identification and to leave the event, WJLA reported. Violators who refuse to comply will be forcibly removed by law enforcement officers, according to the outlet. (RELATED: House Republicans Cancel Muriel Bowser Hearing After DC Police Clear GW Encampment)

The university promised to impose “enhanced safety protocols,” such as additional security officers and fencing around the venue’s entrance, according to the outlet. GWU refused to divest from Israel in a statement released Friday.

“We also want to make clear in advance that the university is not considering changes to our endowment investment strategy, academic partnerships, or established SRR processes,” the statement by Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Colette Coleman read.

Multiple other universities have had their ceremonies disrupted by pro-Palestine demonstrators. Several dozen Duke University students walked out of comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s Sunday commencement address to protest his support for Israel. On the same day, a graduating student at Columbia walked across the stage with her wrists bound and tore her diploma in half.