© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
ATSC 3.0 FAQ
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Yale University graduates walk out on commencement over war in Gaza

Darius Sias gives a thumbs up to student protesters after seeing his daughter graduate during Yale’s undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 20, 2024. He said the demonstrations against the war in Gaza reminds him of protests he participated in when he was in college against apartheid in South Africa. “We did the same thing. If enough people stay together, things will happen,” Sias said.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Darius Sias gives a thumbs up to student protesters after seeing his daughter graduate during Yale’s undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 20, 2024. He said the demonstrations against the war in Gaza reminds him of protests he participated in college against apartheid in South Africa. “We did the same thing. If enough people stay together, things will happen,” Sias said.

Owen Decatur said he felt nervous in the minutes before he, along with his fellow Yale University graduates, planned on walking out of their own commencement ceremony. But those feelings faded as Decatur heard the chants nearby in support of the Palestinians.

“I got to see that our Dean Lewis of Yale College had to stop speaking and had to stop doing his conferrals,” Decatur said.

Decatur was one of hundreds who left the ceremony on Monday in a show of protest. The demonstration was the latest in an ongoing series of actions calling on Yale University to divest from weapons manufacturers supplying Israel with arms in its ongoing war in Gaza.

Decatur and other students said it made sense to walk out as a statement against what they say is their university’s support for Israel.

Some supportive faculty members joined the rally, which began on the university’s “Old Campus” and ended at the New Haven Green. Protesters chanted “It's our Yale” along with other slogans as other graduates and their families milled about, or walked past them.

Yale University said in a statement that "a number of graduating students chose to peacefully walk out during the ceremony" and that university staff guided the students to an area outside the event. The ceremony continued as scheduled, officials noted.

"Yale is committed to promoting freedom of speech and expression," the statement said.

Decatur said the protest was a way to reject his bachelor's degree.

Students chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, there’s blood on your portfolio,” stand outside of Yale’s commencement after walking out during the ceremony to protest school’s investment in companies associated with the Israeli military. Undergraduate student Owen Decatur (on the right), said he wanted to use his platform to speak out in support of Palestinians facing bombardment by the Israeli military in Gaza. “I’m here because right now there are no graduations in Gaza. Every day, there are fewer and fewer children who will get the opportunity to walk across that stage,” he said.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Students chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, there’s blood on your portfolio,” stand outside of Yale’s commencement after walking out during the ceremony to protest school’s investment in companies associated with the Israeli military. Undergraduate student Owen Decatur (on the right), said he wanted to use his platform to speak out in support of Palestinians facing bombardment by the Israeli military in Gaza. “I’m here because right now there are no graduations in Gaza. Every day, there are fewer and fewer children who will get the opportunity to walk across that stage,” he said.

“It would symbolize a rejection of our degrees because we did not want a degree from an institution that continues to invest in weapons manufacturing that attributes to the genocide of Palestinian people in Gaza,” Decatur said.

Other students who walked out included graduate Tadea Martin Gonzalez, who wants Yale to divest from weapons manufacturers. Martin Gonzalez pushed back on criticisms of the protest and noted that it is also her special day. However, she could not ignore the fact that nearly 90% of all schools in Gaza lay in ruins.

“Who are we to graduate? When many others who we carry in our memory do not have the privilege,” Martin Gonzalez said.

Fawn Cho, who is not a student at Yale, but is supportive of her sister who is, said she liked seeing the students exercise their free speech.

“It is interesting for all the people who come here to have different perspectives,” Cho said.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content