update deskSchools & Higher Education

Columbia students wear zip-ties, carry Palestinian signs at graduation

Student protesters were cheered as they marched across the stage wearing zip-tie handcuffs to protest Israel's war in Gaza.

A view of protesters demonstrating outside the campus of Columbia University in New York City on April 22, 2024. Credit: Evan Schneider/U.N. Photo.
A view of protesters demonstrating outside the campus of Columbia University in New York City on April 22, 2024. Credit: Evan Schneider/U.N. Photo.

Columbia University graduates wore zip-tie handcuffs and held pro-Palestinian signs, and one even tore the symbolic diploma immediately as she received it on Friday during the school’s commencement ceremonies.

In a video of the event, protesting students from the Columbia School of Social Work can be seen marching across the stage wearing keffiyehs around their shoulders and other forms of protest.

Tarsis Salome, a Columbia social work graduate, tore a symbolic diploma to shreds after crossing the stage to accept it. She wore a keffiyeh and held her zip-tied hands above her head. (Schools tend to hand students symbolic diplomas at commencement ceremonies and mail the real thing later on.)

Students cheered as she tore the materials.

Veda Kamra and Hilary Margaret Elizabeth Ludlow, also wearing keffiyehs, were similarly hailed by the audience as they held “Free Palestine” signs with zip-tied hands.

Maliha Fairooz, wearing a hijab, appeared to have the name of a Hamas leader—Mazen Jamal Al-Natsheh—written across her cap, The New York Post reported. She also had her hands zip-tied.

Columbia canceled its university-wide commencement at its Morningside Heights campus. That ceremony is normally attended by 50,000. The university is holding smaller, college-wide ceremonies instead due to security issues.

“Holding a large commencement ceremony on our campus presented security concerns that unfortunately proved insurmountable,” school spokesman Ben Chang said last week, the Post reported.

Anti-Israel protests have popped up across U.S. campuses nationwide, including at Columbia, in the form of tent encampments that commandeered school property in violation of regulations.

At Columbia and other schools, Jewish students reported being the target of antisemitic epithets and even physical violence from the encampments.

Columbia’s protest culminated in a group taking over Hamilton Hall by demonstrators, which the New York City Police Department was forced to clear.

The NYPD announced that numerous outside agitators were involved, endangering students.

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