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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Protesters disrupt Commencement

Some graduates refused to shake Beilock’s hand when walking across the stage, and some staged a walkout.

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On June 9, the Class of 2024’s Commencement ceremony was disrupted by pro-union and pro-Palestinian protesters — following a trend of graduation protests on college campuses nationwide.

Disruptions included a march around the Green, refusals to shake College President Sian Leah Beilock’s hand and a walkout during Beilock’s speech. More than 130 graduating seniors from the Class of 2024 — along with several graduate students — declined to shake Beilock’s hand as they crossed the Commencement stage.

Joe Fausey ’23 said that the walkout had been planned “in the run-up to graduation.” He said he participated in the walkout to protest the arrest of 89 people during the May 1 protest under the Beilock administration.

“I think [Beilock’s] consistent campaign of suppressing speech on campus is, frankly, ridiculous,” Fausey said. “The antagonism … she frequently puts forward to students who try to speak up about genocide, who try to speak up about the injustices going on in the world today — I just don’t agree with it at all.” 

Maya Beauvineau ’26, one of the protesters who marched around the Green, said the Dartmouth administration has “made a hostile environment by arresting [89] students and community members.”

Beauvineau, along with her fellow protesters, is calling for the College to “divest from the military industrial complex.”

“We’re just trying to call for justice and call for peace against an ongoing genocide,” she said.

Despite the ceremony’s disruptions, College spokesperson Jana Barnello wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth that the day “was a celebration of achievement, community and future possibilities for all our graduates.”

“Even in a downpour, their collective joy was on display amplified by the excitement from their family and friends gathered together on the Green,” Barnello wrote. “As always, Dartmouth respects and supports the free expression of diverse viewpoints.” 

Similar disruptions have occurred at other university graduation ceremonies across the country. More than 1,000 walked out of Harvard University’s Commencement on May 23, according to the Harvard Crimson, and two student speakers condemned the university’s response to pro-Palestinian protests rather than reading from their prepared remarks. A walkout also occurred at Duke University’s graduation on May 12 in response to the introduction of Commencement speaker Jerry Seinfield, who has been publicly supportive of Israel.

Walkouts and protests occurred at other universities including Pomona College, the University of Michigan and Yale University.

In addition, Columbia University and the University of Southern California canceled their main stage graduation ceremonies in response to protests on campus.

Correction Appended (June 9, 2:34 p.m.): A previous version of this article cited that some students refused to shake Beilock's hand as they received their diplomas. However, students did not receive their diplomas as they walked across the Commencement stage. In addition, it was not clarified that Columbia University and USC specifically canceled their main stage graduation ceremonies. The article has been corrected.