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The commencement events will proceed largely as planned, with some interruptions

SOPHIE PARK/THE NEW YORK TIMES A Northeastern student holds a pro-Palestinian flag during a commencement ceremony at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  The war in Gaza, combined with tensions over student protests in recent weeks, was unmistakably present at some of Sunday's commencement ceremonies.

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SOPHIE PARK/THE NEW YORK TIMES

A Northeastern student holds a pro-Palestinian flag during a commencement ceremony at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The war in Gaza, combined with tensions over student protests in recent weeks, was unmistakably present at some commencement ceremonies on Sunday.

The war in the Gaza Strip, combined with tensions over student protests in recent weeks, was unmistakably present at some commencement ceremonies on Sunday.

At Fenway Park in Boston, home of the Boston Red Sox, approximately 4,000 Northeastern University students and nearly 30,000 attendees gathered for a graduation ceremony. It came at a tense moment, just over a week after 98 people were arrested — including 29 students and six faculty or staff — when police cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment built on campus last Saturday.

Some students painted Palestinian symbols and flags on their graduation caps. The commencement student speaker, Rebecca Bamidele, drew cheers from some in the audience after she highlighted the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. When Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun was introduced, several students cheered with scattered pro-Palestinian chants.

At one point, a student wearing a kaffiyeh wrapped around his head and a shirt that read “DIVEST” ran onto the stage before being forcibly removed by police and dragged from the seating area.

College of Social Sciences and Humanities Dean Kellee Tsai addressed the adjournment, reading what appeared to be a prepared note.

“We respect your passion and opinions, we respect your right to express them, in the right setting,” Tsai said. “This event honors our graduates and distinguished guests and is a celebration of their achievements. Out of respect for your community and honored guests, I ask that you allow us to proceed with this event.

There were no disruptions earlier Sunday, when thousands of students attended Northeastern’s commencement.

There were fewer interruptions at Ohio State University, as an estimated 70,000 people watched 12,000 students graduate at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Some student groups had called for demonstrations, but the only protests were quiet individual ones: several students decorated their mortar boards with pro-Palestinian designs, carried the Palestinian flag and wore kaffiyehs.

Melissa Shivers, Ohio State’s senior vice president for student life, said in her welcome speech that “disruptions will not be permitted,” emphasizing “not.” The emphatic warning drew thunderous applause from the crowd.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.