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U of MN students disrupt commencement, demanding divestment from Israeli apartheid.

By Jasper Nordin

Minneapolis, MN – On Sunday, May 12, pro-Palestine students disrupted graduation ceremonies for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. These disruptions were part of continued efforts to make the university administration meet its promises to the organizers of the Gaza solidarity encampments on campus.

The College of Liberal Arts is the largest within the University of Minnesota system. Because of this, CLA commencement was divided into two ceremonies on Sunday – one at 11 a.m. and one at 4 p.m. Both ceremonies featured disruptions from students, who waved flags and banners expressing their solidarity with Palestine as they walked across the stage to receive their degrees.

The homemade banners, which students kept concealed under their gowns until it was time for them to walk across the stage, included messages like “Free Palestine,” “Divest UMN” and “Let Gaza live.” Student protesters disrupting their commencement ceremonies were greeted with loud cheers and applause from the audience and from their fellow graduates, both of whom numbered in the thousands.

The Divest UMN coalition, made up of the student groups Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), and Students for Climate Justice (SCJ), had a victory in this round of the divestment struggle.

On Friday, May 10, the student coalition presented their plan for divestment to the board of regents of the University of Minnesota, which is now required to vote on the resolution in the near future. Since the dismantling of the encampment on May 1, the Divest UMN coalition has transitioned to pressuring university administration and the board of regents to fulfill the promises they made, with the mutual understanding that a failure to do so will result in continued escalation of protests on campus.

In attendance at both commencement ceremonies as he conferred degrees upon graduates was James Farnsworth, a member of the board of regents who heard Divest UMN’s proposal at the May 10 meeting, and who will be voting on the divestment resolution.

The organized disruptions of the College of Liberal Arts commencement ceremonies demonstrate the continued resolve of the student organizers and the UMN student body at large, and their commitment to ensuring a full divestment from Israeli apartheid, occupation and genocide.

#MinneapolisMN #Palestine #SDS